“So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and refrain from what he withholds from you” 59:7
These Quranic words which form part of verse 7 of Sura 59 have been badly manipulated by those who wish to find any justification for granting prophet Muhammad legislative powers. According to these scholars they interpret these words to mean that we must uphold everything and every word spoken by the prophet as law and refrain from everything he prohibits. With this allowance they have elevated Muhammad to being a Law maker besides God. This is in sharp violation to many Quranic verses such as 6:114, 42:21 and 66:1.
One common way of corrupting the meaning of a Quranic truth is to isolate one verse, or part of a verse, from the verses that come before it or after it. By doing so, a totally misleading meaning can be obtained.
Let us look at the following very simple example:
“O you who believe, do not approach the Salat (prayer) while intoxicated, so that you know what you are saying.” 4:43
Now let us read the first few words of this verse without the remainder, we get:
“O you who believe, do not approach the Salat (prayer)”
Here we have material for manipulation, since these Quranic words command us not to observe our prayers! Obviously this manipulation was possible only because we quoted part of a verse and omitted the remainder.
The same principle can also sometimes apply when we quote one Quranic verse in isolation without reading the verses immediately before or or after it. This is exactly the case when applied to 59:7 in isolation.
It is true that the words used in 59:7 say that we should accept what the messenger gives us and refrain from what he withholds from us. But what exactly is God speaking about here? Do these words mean that the messenger has the authority to legislate and we to accept him as a law maker? What do the words before these words in 59:7 say? Well, by reading the whole verse the picture becomes totally different from what the manipulators are claiming:
Sura 59, verses 6-7:
“Whatever God restored for His messenger was not the result of your war efforts, whether you fought on horses or on foot. God is the One who sends His messengers against whomever He wills. God is Omnipotent.
That which God gives as spoil unto His messenger from the defeated towns, it is for God and His messenger and for the relatives, the orphans and the needy and the traveling alien. Thus, it will not remain monopolized by the strong among you. So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and refrain from what he withholds from you. You shall reverence God. God is strict in enforcing retribution.”
By reading these glorious Quranic words we arrive at the following important issues:
1- These two verses (59:6-7) speak very clearly about the spoils of war and nothing else. The words “that which God gives as spoils from the defeated towns” confirm that the subject is the spoils of war.
2- More important the source of what is given to the people by the messenger “what the messenger asigns to you” is God and not the messenger. This is confirmed with the words “what God restored for His messenger”. What this means is that whatever is given to the believers, and even though is given by the messenger, yet the source is still God. The spoils of war are given to the messenger in order that he may distribute them in accordance to God’s rules.
3- We read that the messenger is told specifically how to distribute these spoils of war: “for the relatives, the orphans, the needy, and the traveling alien”.
4- Following these words, God says that the believers should accept what the messenger gives them (of the spoils) and refrain from what is not given to them. In other words, God is telling the believers to accept the way the messenger distributes these spoils of war without grumbling.
5- The words “so it would not remain monopolised by the strong among you” is further conclusive proof that God is not speaking about the hadith or sunna of the messenger but is speaking about material gains, i.e the spoils of war.
6- The conclusion is that these two verses have been badly manipulated by those who would go to any lengths to instate the Prophet as a second law giver besides God. As we have just seen they would even manipulate God’s own words in order to justify their claims. In order to do so, they they took few words out of 59:7 “take what the messenger gives you” and quoted them in isolation in order to deceive.