03 Nov Sūratu’l-Anfāl [Gains of War]: (8:42)
إِذْ أَنتُم بِالْعُدْوَةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُم بِالْعُدْوَةِ الْقُصْوَىٰ وَالرَّكْبُ أَسْفَلَ مِنكُمْ ۚ وَلَوْ تَوَاعَدتُّمْ لَاخْتَلَفْتُمْ فِي الْمِيعَادِ ۙ وَلَـٰكِن لِّيَقْضِيَ اللَّهُ أَمْرًا كَانَ مَفْعُولًا لِّيَهْلِكَ مَنْ هَلَكَ عَن بَيِّنَةٍ وَيَحْيَىٰ مَنْ حَيَّ عَن بَيِّنَةٍ ۗ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَسَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“But (God caused you to meet for battle in such circumstances) so that God might accomplish a thing that He had already decreed in order that he who was to perish should perish by a clear evidence (of his deserving perishing because he followed falsehood), and he who survived might survive by a clear evidence (of his deserving survival because of his devotion to the truth). Surely God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Al-Anfāl 8:42)
Life could have been organized according to what is stated in the verse,
“If your Lord had so willed, all who are on the earth would surely have believed, all of them” (Yūnus 10:99).
However, the Divine Will has bound the existence of belief and unbelief dependent upon a struggle which will continue until the end of the world. It is possible to see this reality clearly when we look at the history of humankind since the time of Prophet Adam, upon him be peace.
So if we want to live as believers, we should not forget that we may always be the target of the transgression, betrayal, tyranny, and enmity of the people of unbelief.
While the natural hostility of unbelief towards belief brings the unbelievers to aggression, the front of belief should not cause unbelievers to feel as if they are walking among the corpses. Those who die should die knowing clearly for which cause they die while those who survive should know clearly for which cause they strive and survive so that no one may have any excuses or questions in God’s Presence on the Day of Judgment.
Whether it is the believers or unbelievers who are victorious, the result does not change: no side will have excuses before God, for both the believers and unbelievers deserve the result of their striving.
To explain the matter further, the verse under discussion was revealed in regard with the Battle of Badr. As stated in the first part of the verse, God Almighty organized the battle in such circumstances that even if the two sides—the Muslim army under the command of God’s Messenger and the Makkan army—had made a mutual appointment to meet for battle in such circumstances, they would have failed to keep the appointment. However, the divinely sanctioned incident brought the two sides face to face for battle without the forethought and planning of either of the two parties. Those who would “survive” would do so because they deserved it. In fact, this is the truth of the entire human history. Those who have “perished” with respect to the eternal life as well as their worldly life have perished or lost because they have been closed to the truth and thus defeated by their grudges, hatred or deviations while those who have survived have survived and earned eternal life in high-spiritedness and happiness due to their courage, altruism, and struggle with wrongdoing and injustices, as well as their dedication to lofty ideals, and right-eousness.
To sum up, neither those who have died nor those who have survived in the Battle of Badr and all other battles, neither those who are victorious nor those who are defeated, and neither the believers nor unbelievers who have lived throughout history can do anything but admit that whatever happens is right and pure justice.
This is so because everything occurs in the knowledge of the “All-Knowing” and “All-Hearing” and within a framework He has established.