Surah an-Nisa' (Women ) 4 : 94
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(a greeting of) peace
You are not
(of) the life
(of) the world
then conferred favor
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
Indeed, they never thought of depriving them of any right given to them by Islam. To guard against accidental killing, and to ensure the purity of those whose hearts fight for God’s cause so that they may be totally dedicated to the service of Islam, God instructs the Muslims not to fight with anyone or to kill them until they are sure of his identity. They must accept his statement if he claims to be a Muslim, since there can be no evidence to the contrary. “Believers, when you go on an expedition to serve the cause of God, use your discernment and do not — out of a desire for the fleeting gains of this worldly life — say to one who offers you the greeting of peace: ‘You are not a believer’: for with God are abundant gains. Thus have you been in days gone by. But God has bestowed on you His grace. Therefore, use your discernment. Indeed God is always aware of what you do.” (Verse 94)
There are a number of reports that speak of the circumstances in which this verse was revealed. They may be summed up in such a way that suggests that a Muslim expedition once came across a man with his sheep. He greeted them with the Islamic greeting, Assalāmu `alaikum, to indicate that he was a Muslim. Some of them considered that this was merely words he spoke to save his life. Therefore, they killed him. This Qur’ānic verse was then revealed to indicate that such an action is forbidden. Believers must not entertain any thoughts which betray that they are after making any worldly gains or which show that they make hasty judgements. Both are unacceptable to Islam. When Muslims go out on a campaign of jihād for God’s cause, then the gains that they may make must never come into their reckoning. Such gains are never a motive for jihād. Similarly, a hasty judgement may lead to the shedding of a Muslim’s blood with whom the most cherished tie should exist. God reminds the believers of their recent days of ignorance which were characterised by hasty judgements and the coveting of worldly gains. He reminds them of His grace when He purified their hearts, elevated their ideals and placed their objectives on a sublime level.
The same statement may also be understood as implying a reference to the fact that they, themselves, used to conceal from their people the fact that they were Muslims. This is because they were too weak. They only revealed this when they felt secure in the company of other Muslims. The man who was thus killed might have concealed the truth of his being a Muslim from his own people. When he met the Muslims, he offered them the greeting of peace characteristic of Muslims, to indicate that he, himself, was a Muslim: “Thus have you been in days gone by. But God has bestowed on you His grace. Therefore, use your discernment. Indeed God is always aware of what you do.” (Verse 94)
We note how the Qur’ān touches the believers’ most sensitive feelings in order to remind them of God’s grace and to make them more conscious of their obligations. It is through this sensitivity and consciousness that Islam achieves full commitment by its followers to its legal system, after having explained its laws most clearly. It is this clarity and purity that characterises external relations between Islam and other communities, as explained in this passage.
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.