Surah Al-Anfal Ayat 16 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 16
And whoever turns his back to them on such a day, unless swerving [as a strategy] for war or joining [another] company, has certainly returned with anger [upon him] from Allah, and his refuge is Hell – and wretched is the destination.
If any do turn his back to them on such a day – unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)!
For he who turns his back on them on such ar occasion – except that it be for tactical reasons, or turning to join another company – he shall incur the wrath of Allah and Hell shall be his abode. It is an evil destination.
And whoever turns his back to them on such a day – unless it be a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own), – he indeed has drawn upon himself wrath from Allah. And his abode is Hell, and worst indeed is that destination!
Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless manoeuvring for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end.
And whoever turns his back upon that day to them, except (in case) of turning off (i.e., turning off “e.g., the road” as a stratagem or to regroup) to fight or taking the side of (another) community, he has then incurred anger from Allah, and his abode is Hell, and miserable is the Destiny!
if anyone does so on such a day- unless maneuvring to fight or to join a fighting group- he incurs the wrath of God, and Hell will be his home, a wretched destination!
Quran 8 Verse 16 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Al-Anfal ayat 16, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(8:16) For he who turns his back on them on such ar occasion – except that it be for tactical reasons, or turning to join another company – he shall incur the wrath of Allah and Hell shall be his abode. It is an evil destination. 
13. The Qur’an does not forbid orderly retreat under strong pressure from the enemy provided it is resorted to as a stratagem of war, for example seeking reinforcements or joining another party in the rear. What the Qur’an does forbid is disorderly flight produced by sheer cowardice and defeatism. Such a retreat takes place because the deserter holds his life dearer than his cause. Such cowardice has been characterized as one of those three major sins which, if committed, can be atoned for by no other good deed whatsoever. These three sins are: ascription of divinity to anyone or anything other than God, violation of the rights of parents, and flight from the battlefield during fighting in the way of God. (See al-Mundhiri, ‘Kitab al-Jihad’, ‘Bab al-Tarhib min al-Firar min al-Zahf’- Ed.) In another tradition the Prophet (peace be on him) has mentioned seven deadly sins which totally ruin a man’s Next Life. One of these is flight from the battlefield in an encounter between Islam and Unbelief. (Muslim, ‘K. al-lman’, ‘Bab al-Kabi’ir wa Akbaruha’; Bukhari, ‘K. al-Wasaya’, ‘bab – fi Qawl Allah – Tala: inna al-ladhina Ya’kuluna Amwal al-Yatami Zulman’ – Ed.) This has been declared a deadly sin because in addition to being an act of sheer cowardice, it demoralizes others and can generate demoralization which can have disastrous consequences. An individual soldier’s desertion might cause a whole platoon, or even a whole regiment, and ultimately the whole army, to take flight. For once a soldier flees in panic, it is hard to control the others.
The tafsir of Surah Al-Anfal verse 16 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Anfal ayat 15 which provides the complete commentary from verse 15 through 16.
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