Surah an-Nisa' (Women ) 4 : 92
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
The sūrah provides legal provisions for four cases of killing, three of which may happen by mistake among Muslims in the same community or in different communities. The fourth is that of deliberate murder which, the Qur’ān insists, should never happen in the first place. Nothing should bring the relationship between two Muslims so low for a murder of this sort to take place. The relationship between two Muslims is too strong, deeply rooted, precious and dearly cherished for such a serious breach to be contemplated. Hence, the sūrah begins by legislating for accidental killing.
“Never should a believer kill another believer, unless it be by mistake.” (Verse 92) This is the only possibility which is acceptable to the Islamic sense and which is possible in reality. For a Muslim to live side by side with another Muslim is a truly great blessing. It is inconceivable that a Muslim takes a deliberate step, after contemplation, to remove this great blessing from his life by committing such a horrendous crime. Muslims belong to a very dear race. The one who knows the value of a Muslim is only another Muslim. Hence, killing him makes no sense. This is something well known to the people immediately concerned with it. They recognise it within themselves and in their feelings. It is God who has given it to them through their faith and their ties with God’s Messenger. These ties are further elevated to bring them together, united by their bonds with God Himself who has established their remarkable unity.
When accidental killing takes place, there can be one of three cases for which legal provisions are made. The first is that when the victim belongs to a Muslim family living in the land of Islam. In this case, a slave who is a believer must be set free and an indemnity must be paid to the victim’s family. Setting a slave free is a compensation made to the Muslim community by the revival of another Muslim soul. This is, indeed, how freeing a slave is viewed in Islam. As for the indemnity, it is paid in order to pacify those immediately affected by the killing. It compensates them for a part of their loss. At the same time, the Qur’ān hints that the victim’s family may forego this indemnity, if they so desire, because such an attitude promotes feelings of forgiveness within the Muslim community: “He who kills a believer by mistake must free a believing soul from bondage and pay an indemnity to his family, unless they forego it by way of charity.” (Verse 92)
The second case is that whereby the victim is, himself, a believer while his own people are at war with the Muslim community. In this case, a slave who is a believer must be freed to compensate for the believer who has been killed. No indemnity is payable to his people who are at war with Islam, because that would strengthen them in their fight against the Muslims. Here, there is no attempt to pacify the family of the victim or to win favour or to establish friendly relations with them. They are hostile to Islam and they fight against the Muslims.
The third case is one whereby the victim belongs to a people who have a treaty or a covenant with the Muslims. The Qur’ānic statement does not specify that the victim must be a believer in this case. This has led some commentators on the Qur’ān and other scholars to consider the statement a general one, applying to all people who have a covenant or a treaty with the Muslims, even if they are not believers. The fact that they have such a covenant makes them entitled to the same protection as Muslims.
It appears to us, however, that the whole verse deals with the killing of believers. The opening sentence in this Qur’ānic verse states: “Never should a believer kill another believer, unless it be by mistake.” This is followed by detailing the various cases in which the victim is a believer. The fact that in the second case there is a clear and specific reference to the victim being a believer, “If the victim belonged to a people who are at war with you, while he himself was a believer”, has special significance. It is made in order to dispel any confusion about his identity because his people are at war with the Muslims. The victim, himself, must be a believer, although his people are not. This understanding of the third case being applicable to victims of accidental death who are Muslims is supported by the fact that the penalty includes the freeing of a believing slave. Again this is compensation for the loss of one believer by freeing another from bondage. Otherwise, the freeing of any slave, believer or not, would have been adequate.
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.
9. Relevant Hadith[ edit ]
حَدَّثَنَا هِشَامُ بْنُ عَمَّارٍ، حَدَّثَنَا الْوَلِيدُ بْنُ مُسْلِمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا مَرْوَانُ بْنُ جَنَاحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي الْجَهْمِ الْجُوزَجَانِيِّ، عَنِ الْبَرَاءِ بْنِ عَازِبٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ " لَزَوَالُ الدُّنْيَا أَهْوَنُ عَلَى اللَّهِ مِنْ قَتْلِ مُؤْمِنٍ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ
It was narrated from Bara' bin Azib that the Messenger of Allah said: “If this world were to be destroyed, that would be less significant before Allah than the unlawful killing of a believer.” (Ibn Majah 2619)