Aslam Abu Imran (radi Allahu anhu) said: “We went on a military expedition from Al-Madinah to Constantinople and Abdur-Rahman bin Khalid bin Al-Waleed was (commander) over the group. The Romans had gathered before the wall of the city (ready to fight). So a man went to attack the enemy. Thereupon, the people said, ‘Stop, stop! None has the right to be worshipped but Allah! He is throwing himself into destruction.’ Thus, Abu Ayyub said, ‘This Ayat was revealed about us, the people of the Ansaar. When Allah granted victory to His Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and gave Islam dominance, we said: ‘Come, let us stay with our wealth (and properties) and improve it.’ Thereupon, Allah (the Mighty and Sublime) revealed, ‘And spend in the Path of Allah, and do not throw yourselves into destruction.’ [2:195] So, to ‘throw oneself into destruction’ means ‘to stay with our wealth and improve it, and abandon Jihad.’ Abu Ayyub continued to engage himself in Jihad in the Path of Allah (the Mighty and Sublime) until he was buried in Constantinople.” [Sunan Abu Dawud]
This is a good example of why it is necessary to know the context in which an Ayat was revealed, i.e., its Asbab-un-Nuzool. Those who didn’t know the context of the Ayat, “Do not throw yourselves into destruction,” yelled to the man to abandon his attack, which is the very opposite of what the Ayat commands Muslims to do.
Knowledge of the circumstances behind the revelation of Ayaat, and what the Sahabah did in order to implement its rulings, is necessary if one is to correctly understand Allah’s commands in the Quran. In order to derive the correct ruling from an Ayat one must know the application of it that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) approved of. Thus, what we learn from the Ayat, “Do not throw yourselves into destruction,” is that becoming so occupied with worldly affairs that it holds you back from spending and participating in Jihad is equivalent to self-destruction.