Surah an-Nisa' (Women ) 4 : 135
|Click word/image to view Qur'an Dictionary|
and the relatives
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
Here we see the wise Qur’ānic method of educating the Muslim community in full operation, preparing the addressees for their difficult duties: “Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents and kin. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them.” (Verse 135) The trust they have been assigned is to maintain justice, in its absolute sense, in every situation. It is the sort of fairness which prevents aggression and oppression anywhere on earth. It guarantees justice between people, giving everyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, their rights. In their entitlement to justice, all people, believers and unbelievers, are equal in God’s sight, as we have seen in the incident involving the Jewish man in Madinah. Similarly, relative and stranger, friend and foe, poor and rich are treated with absolute equality.
“Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God.” (Verse 135) This is something to be done, dealing directly with God and for His sake. It is not for the sake of anyone else for or against whom a testimony is given. Nor is it to serve the interests of any individual, group or community. It is not something that takes into account the circumstances of any particular case. It is a testimony given for God’s sake, free of any desire, prejudice, interest or consideration.
“Even though it be against yourselves, or your parents and kin.” (Verse 135) At this point, the Qur’ānic method of education tries to place a person firstly in opposition to himself and secondly against his feelings towards his parents and kin. This is a very difficult task, much more difficult than stating it verbally or understanding its significance theoretically. To put this into practice is totally different from having a mental picture of what it involves. It is only the person who tries to do it practically that can understand its difficulty. Nevertheless, the Qur’ānic method prepares the hearts of believers for this hard task, because it must be put into effect: the rule must be stated and human individuals must abide by it.
“Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice.” (Verse 135) Desires are of different types, some of which have already been mentioned. Love of oneself, one’s immediate family and other relatives is one type of desire, as is sympathy with a poor person when giving testimony or arbitrating. Being courteous or hostile to a rich person is another type of desire. In a situation of being a witness or making judgement, taking sides with one’s clan, tribe, community, nation or motherland is one desire, as is taking sides against one’s enemies, even though they are enemies to our faith. Desires have many other forms and God prohibits that we be influenced by any one of them in such a way that we deviate from truth and justice.
The verse concludes with a clear warning against twisting the truth in one’s testimony: “If you distort [the truth] or decline to do justice, then [know that] God is indeed aware of all that you do.” (Verse 135) It is sufficient for a believer to remember that God sees what he does to realise the seriousness of this warning and to tremble at what it means. We must not forget that this is addressed to people who really do believe.
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
This Surah comprises several discourses which were revealed on different occasions during the period ranging probably between the end of year 3 A.H. and the end of 4 A.H. or the beginning of 5 A.H. Although it is difficult to determine the exact dates of their revelations it is possible to assign to them a fairly correct period with the help of the Commandments and the events mentioned therein. A few instances are given below by way of illustration:
1. We know that the inheritance law for those martyred and protection for the rights of the orphans was sent down after the Battle of Uhud (in which 70 Muslims were martyred). From this we conclude that v. 1 -28 were revealed on that occasion.
2. We learn from the traditions that the ruling regarding the prayer (Salah) during war time was given on the occasion of the Zat-ur-Riqa’aan expedition. This took place in 4 A.H. From this we conclude that the discourse containing v. 102 was revealed on that occasion.
3. The last warning to the Jews was given before the Banu-Nadheer were exiled from Madinah in Rabi’-ulAwwal 4 A.H. It may therefore be assumed that the discourse containing v. 47 was revealed before that date.
4. The permission about performing ablution with dust in the event of no water (tayammum) verse 43, was given during the Bani-al-Mustaliq expedition which took place in 5 A.H. [REF: Mawdudi]
8. Reasons for Revelation[ edit ]
Let us now consider the social and historical considerations of the period in order to understand the Surah. All the discourses in this Surah deal with three main problems which confronted the Prophet at the time. First of all he was engaged in bringing about an all round development of the islamic Community that had been formed at the time of his migration to Madinah. For this purpose he was introducing new moral cultural social economic and political ways in place of the old ones of the pre-islamic period. The second thing that occupied his attention and efforts was the bitter struggle that was going on with the polytheist Arabs, the Jewish clans and the hypocrites who were opposing tooth and nail his mission of reform. Above all, he had to propagate Islam in the face of the bitter opposition of these powers of evil with a view to capturing more and more minds and hearts.
Accordingly detailed instructions have been given for the consolidation and strengthening of the islamic Community in continuation of those given in Surah 2: Al-Baqarah (The Cow). Principles for the smooth running of family life have been laid down and ways of settling family disputes have been taught. Rules have been prescribed for marriage and rights of wife and husband have been apportioned fairly and equitably. The status of women in the society has been determined and the declaration of the rights of orphans has been made. Laws and regulations have been laid down for the division of inheritance and instructions have been given to reform economic affairs. The foundation of the penal code has been laid down, drinking has been prohibited and instructions have been given for cleanliness and purity. The Muslims have been taught the kind of relations good men should have with their God and fellow men. Instructions have been given for the maintenance of discipline in the Muslim Community.
The moral and religious condition of The People of the Book (Jews and Christians) has been reviewed to teach lessons to the Muslims and to forewarn them to refrain from following in their footsteps. The conduct of the hypocrites has been criticized and the distinctive features of hypocrisy and true faith have been clearly marked off to enable the Muslims to distinguish between the two. In order to cope with the aftermath of the Battle of Uhud, Inspiring discourses were sent down to urge the Muslims to face the enemy bravely, for defeat in the Battle had so emboldened the polytheist Arab clans and the neighbouring Jews and the hypocrites at home, that they were threatening the Muslims on all sides. At this critical juncture God filled the Muslims with courage and gave them such instructions as were needed during that period of war clouds. In order to counteract the fearful rumours that were being spread by the hypocrites and the Muslims of weak faith they were asked to make a thorough enquiry into them and to inform the responsible people about them. Then they were experiencing some difficulties in offering their prayer during the expeditions to some places where no water was available for performing their ablutions etc. In such cases they were allowed to cleanse themselves with pure earth and to shorten the prayer or to offer the “Prayer of Fear” when they were faced with danger. Instructions were also given for the solution of the puzzling problem of those Muslims who were scattered among the unbelieving Arab clans and were often involved in war. They were asked to migrate to Madinah the abode of Islam.
This Surah also deals with the case of Banu nadir who were showing a hostile and menacing attitude in spite of the peace treaties they had made with the Muslims. They were openly siding with the enemies of Islam and hatching plots against the Prophet and the Muslim Community even at Madinah itself. They were taken to task for their inimical behaviour and given a final warning to change their attitude and were at last exiled from Madinah on account of their misconduct.
The problem of the hypocrites, who had become very troublesome at that time, was involving the Believers in difficulties. Therefore, they were divided into different categories to enable the Muslims to deal with them appropriately. Clear instructions were also given regarding the attitude they should adopt towards the non-belligerent clans. The most important thing needed at that time was to prepare the Muslims for the bitter struggle with the opponents of Islam. For this purpose greatest importance was attached to their character building, for it was obvious that the small Muslim Community could only come out successful, nay, survive, if the Muslims possessed high moral character. They were, therefore, enjoined to adopt the highest moral qualities and were severely criticized whenever any moral weakness was detected in them.
Though this Surah mainly deals with the moral and social reforms, yet due attention has been paid to propagation of Islam. On the one hand, the superiority of the islamic morality and culture has been established over that of the Jews, Christians and polytheists; on the other hand, their wrong religious conceptions, their wrong morality and their evil acts have been criticized to prepare the ground for inviting them to the way of the Truth.