Surah an-Nisa' (Women ) 4 : 84

فَقَٰتِلْ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ لَا تُكَلَّفُ إِلَّا نَفْسَكَ ۚ وَحَرِّضِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ عَسَى ٱللَّهُ أَن يَكُفَّ بَأْسَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ أَشَدُّ بَأْسًا وَأَشَدُّ تَنكِيلًا

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
So fight, [O Muhammad], in the cause of Allāh; you are not held responsible except for yourself. And encourage the Believers [to join you] that perhaps Allāh will restrain the [military] might of those who disbelieve. And Allāh is greater in might and stronger in [exemplary] punishment.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

At this point, having relentlessly exposed the faults existing within the Muslim community that are liable to affect its ability to fight and conduct its affairs, the sūrah reaches a crescendo in urging the Muslims to fight. While addressing God’s Messenger with the order to fight, there is a personal recommendation not to be dissuaded by any dithering, hesitation, disruption or obstacles on the way, even if he had to fight alone, as he would only be accountable for his own actions and obligations. At the same time, it urges the Muslims to fight, giving them reassurance and a prospect of victory as God, who is stronger and swifter in punishment, will take charge of the battle. “Fight, then, in God’s cause, since you are responsible only for your own self and encourage the believers. God may well curb the might of the unbelievers; for God is the strongest in might, and in the ability to deter” (Verse 84)
 
This verse, together with the preceding ones, reveal many characteristics of the Muslim community at the time of revelation, as well as numerous features of human beings at all times.
 
I. It exposes the inconsistency within the Muslim community and the deep effect on it of dithering, disruption and demoralisation; so much so that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is urged to take up arms and fight alone if necessary, fulfilling his personal obligations and continuing to motivate the believers to join him in the jihād whether they responded or not. Although it was unlikely that they would all refuse to join, putting it in this way indicates how critical it is to emphasise these instructions and to incite the Muslims to respond. Beyond that, the statement also asserts the fundamental Islamic truth that every soul is accountable only for its own deeds.
 
II. It highlights the fears and hardships associated with fighting the non- Muslims at that time. Indeed, the utmost prospect of hope given to the Muslims is God’s guarantee to deter the enemy and keep them at bay, the Muslim forces being a mere manifestation of His power. The passage clearly suggests that the non-Muslims were a formidable force and that fear was prevalent among the Muslims. This would be a reference to the intervening period between the Battles of Uĥud and the Moat, being the most critical period for the Muslims of Madinah. At that time the Muslim community had to contend with the hypocrites, the intrigues of the Jews and the zeal of the idolaters to fight them. Furthermore, the Muslims had yet to perfect their understanding of the basic principles and concepts of Islam.
 
III. It also brings to light man’s urgent need for strong and close links with God Almighty, his need for His reassurance and support, and confidence in His power and authority. At times of great danger other powers are of no avail. These are facts the Divine approach deploys because, being man’s creator, God knows best how to educate, mobilise and encourage human nature, and He knows well how human beings respond.

 

2. Linguistic Analysis

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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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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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