Surah an-Nisa' (Women ) 4 : 68

وَلَهَدَيْنَٰهُمْ صِرَٰطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And We would have guided them to a straight path.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

Next, the sūrah confirms that the code of living people are called upon to implement is easy to apply and that the law to judge in their disputes is compassionate, returning verdicts full of mercy. It does not impose on them anything that is too hard or requiring great sacrifices. God knows how weak man is, and He turns to him with mercy. He knows that if people have very tough duties, only a few will fulfil such duties. He does not wish to overburden them, or that they should fall into sin. Hence, He has not imposed on them what is too hard or what causes many of them to fall short of obeying Him. Thus, when people respond to God’s admonition and fulfil the easy tasks imposed on them, they receive great benefits both in the life of this world and in the life to come. God is certain to help them by facilitating their guidance, as He helps everyone who tries his best to follow His guidance: “Yet if We were to order them, Lay down your lives,’ or, ‘Forsake your homelands,’ only a very few of them would do it; but if they would do what they are admonished to do, it would indeed be for their own good and apt to strengthen them greatly [in faith]. And We should indeed grant them, out of Our grace, a mighty reward, and indeed guide them along a straight path.” (Verses 66-68)

This religion of Islam is easy for anyone with an uncorrupted nature to follow. It does not require any superior will-power, available only to a few. The Islamic message is not meant for such a minority; it is a faith for all mankind. People differ in their abilities to fulfil obligations. The religion of Islam ensures that they are all able to fulfil their obligations and refrain from what is forbid

When we speak of the easy nature of this religion of Islam, we are not referring to the concessions and exemptions it gives. Nor do we mean to gather all such concessions and make of them a guiding principle in life. This religion includes both hard duties and concessions. The first are essential, because they are what is required in the first place. The concessions are given to cater for emergencies and special situations. Presenting Islam as a collection of such concessions, some of its well- intentioned advocates say to other people: “Look how easy to follow this religion is!” On the other hand, some of those who are keen to appease the rulers or the masses try to find loopholes to satisfy their desires, making such loopholes the essence of Islam.
This religion of Islam is not a set of concessions or loopholes. It is a complete whole that includes matters requiring strong resolve as well as concessions. It is made easy for people, so that, once he has made his resolve, an ordinary person can follow it and attain his personal perfection, within the limitations of his human nature. This is analogous to a garden in which grapes, plums, pears, berries, figs and cucumber become ripe, but have different tastes. Once each of them becomes ripe, no one says it is not ripe simply because its taste is of a different kind from the rest. In the garden of Islam all sorts of fruits are grown and ripen, giving different tastes, but each attains its perfect stage. Thus, we say that Islam is God’s plant, grown in God’s field, under God’s care.

  • This is the shortest Ayat of Surah an-Nisa.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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  • (4:68) is the shortest Ayat of this Surah with only 3 words,

    وَلَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ صِرَاطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا " And We would have guided them to a straight path." (4:68)

Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *

3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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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

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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. 

9. Relevant Hadith

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