Manipulation of 8:41

And know that one fifth of whatever spoils you gain shall go to God and the messenger, the relatives,
the orphans, the needy and the homeless. This is if you believe in God and in what We brought down upon
Our servant on the Day of the Criterion; the day the two groups met. God is Capable of all things.

It has been claimed by some, that the words in
8:41 speak of the Zakat and that one fifth (20%) of what we gain "ghanimtum" should be dedicated to the recipients specified in 8:41. To analyse this claim, we need to examine the word "ghanimtum" and how it is used in 8:41 and in other Quranic verses.

The literal meaning of this word is: what you have gained.
The question is whether this word in 8:41 refers to everything a person gains such as income, capital gains, gifts, inheritance etc, or is it used in 8:41 in a specific meaning?

The first observation is that the verses which come immediately before 8:41 speak specifically about fighting the disbelievers in war.

2- Further confirmation is given in 8:41 with the words "the day the two groups met." Those who try to manipulate Quranic words in order to enforce their own interpretations, have a habit of quoting some words in isolation and not the whole verse! By reading all the words in 8:41 we have confirmation that the words "you gain" are clearly related to what is gained in war, which are the spoils of war.

3- The verb "ghanimtum" is used only twice in all the Quran. The first is in 8:41 and the second is in 8:69. In 8:69 the believers are told to rejoice in what they gain from war. Once again if we look at the verses just before 8:69 we see they are speaking about war. In 8:67 God is telling the prophet that he may not have prisoners of war except under certain conditions, and in 8:68 God tells the prophet that he would be punished if he breaks these rules. This continues in 8:69 and we find the word "ghanimtum" which is sill connected to war time.

The sura, in which the word "ghanimtum" is used twice, is called Al-Anfal. This word means the spoils of war, which again confirms the topic to be related to the time of war.

When God speaks about the Zakat, God always uses the words "aatu al-Zakat", which means "you shall give the Zakat" and "itaa al-Zakat" which means the giving of the Zakat. The words "ghanimtum" is never used in the Quran in any verse where the word Zakat is used.

The word "ghanimtum" is a verb and the noun is "maghaanim". This word has also been used in the Quran to refer to the spoils of war such as in 48:19 and 48:20. These verses follow from 48:18 which speaks of an imminent victory (in battle).