Quranic Reflection No. 351 Āyat 8:46 – Internal disputes

وَلَا تَنَازَعُوا فَتَفْشَلُوا وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ
Walā tanāza‘ū fatafshalū watadhaba rīhukum
And do not quarrel for then you will lose heart and your power will depart.
(Sūratul Anfāl, No.8, Āyat 46)

A Hadith of Imam al-Bāqir (a) quoted in Al-Tibyān states that this verse was revealed when Khabbāb bin Manzar suggested to the Holy Prophet (s) [at time of Badr] that he move from where he was positioned to a place where there was water. Then he and many others would join the Prophet. Some people disagreed with this and opposed it. It nearly became a cause of dispute among the Muslims and this verse was revealed, advising them to stop quarreling as it would make them weaker and be an obstacle to their success.

When a group decides to do something together they have to work with one another. It is possible that they may not agree on everything. People are unique in their backgrounds, their abilities, their thought processes, etc. Each one will work differently from the other.  But to quarrel and have a dispute within the group because of the differences becomes harmful for the common goals.

In this verse Almighty Allah tells us two results of such disputes:
1) You will become weaker. Disputes create rifts between members. Those then become gaps that are difficult to overcome. Instead of moving together, each part then moves on its own, weakening the entire structure.
2) Your power and effect will diminish. The word used here is ‘rīh’, literally your wind will go away. Wind causes movement forward. It is considered a sign of strength. When the wind blows the ships sail, the flags unfurl and billow. If the wind stops there is no movement. Wind here denotes progress, effect, reaching the goal. Some say it means that when you quarrel among yourselves the wind of success will not blow over you.

There may often be a disagreement between people working together. That does not need to become a full blown conflict. A reminder of the common goal, understanding and appreciating differences, finding a middle ground . . . all help to defuse the tension. Unless that is done, many groups can fall victim to internal disputes which hinder their progress. Instead of focusing on the goal and achieving it, they now focus on petty issues which drain up energy and resources.

Remind yourself of this verse when you work with others. To be strong and move forward you will need to avoid disputes or defuse them as they arise. It is the only way to keep blowing strongly.

Sources: Sh. Al-Tūsī, Al-Tibyān fī Tafsīril Quran; Sh. Tabarsī, Majma‘ul Bayān; www.alketab.org