Surah an-Nisa' (Women ) 4 : 60
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the false deities
they were ordered
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
Now the sūrah refers to those who claim to be believers but who deliberately violate the central condition of faith, trying to refer their disputes to false gods for arbitration, when they have been commanded to reject such false gods. The sūrah wonders at their attitude and warns them against Satan’s attempts to lead them far astray. It describes their reaction when they show their aversion to being called upon to adhere to what God has revealed and to follow His Messenger. The sūrah considers this an act of hypocrisy, and denounces their reference to false gods as a rejection of faith. When their wicked plans end up in misery they try to justify themselves, but their justification is shown to be hollow and false. Nevertheless, God directs His Messenger (peace be upon him) to give them good counsel and to admonish them. The paragraph concludes with a clear statement of God’s purpose in sending Messengers, which shows that they must be obeyed.
This description suggests that all this was in the early stages, after Islam first settled in Madinah. At the time, the hypocrites mustered a substantial force and the Jews, who co-operated with the hypocrites, commanded real strength. Those who did not wish to refer their disputes to God’s law, preferring to refer them to false gods instead, might have been a group of hypocrites, as they are clearly described in the second verse in this paragraph. Alternatively, they might have been Jews who, when they needed arbitration in their dealings with the people of Madinah, were invited to refer them to God’s Book, i.e. the Torah, in some cases, or to God’s Messenger in others. They declined and preferred to refer them to the local traditions that prevailed in pre-Islamic Arabia. After consideration, we feel that the first view is more accurate, especially in light of their claims “that they believe in what has been bestowed from on high upon you, as well as in what was bestowed from on high before you.” (Verse 60) The Jews did not claim to have accepted Islam or to have believed in what was revealed to the Prophet. It was the hypocrites who made such claims in the early period of Islam, i.e. before their power was severely curtailed with the victories achieved against the Jews of Quraiżah and Khaybar. This subsequently led to the steady weakening of the hypocrites’ power in Madinah.
“Are you not aware of those who claim that they believe in what has been bestowed from on high upon you, as well as in what was bestowed from on high before you? They seek the judgement of false gods, although they are bidden to deny them. But Satan wants to lead them far astray.” (Verse 60) Have you seen this most amazing situation? Here are a group of people who profess to believe, but immediately negate their own assertions. They claim to believe in what has been revealed to Muĥammad and in earlier revelations as well, but they will not refer their disputes for arbitration on the basis of such revelations. Instead, they want to refer them to a different system, seeking different rulings based on nothing that is contained in God’s revelations. That means that they refer them to “false gods”, which claim for themselves an essential attribute of Godhead, and, hence, they apply no clear and accurate criteria.
Moreover, they do not do so out of ignorance or doubt. They know for certain that they are forbidden to refer to such false gods, as the verse makes clear: “They seek the judgement of false gods, although they are bidden to deny them.” (Verse 60) Hence, their claims to believe in God’s revelations cannot be true. The fact is that Satan tries to steer them far away from God’s guidance, so that they cannot return to it at any time: “But Satan wants to lead them far astray.” (Verse 60) This is, then, the cause behind their reference to false gods and the reason for their violation of the essentials of faith. It is all stated clearly for them so that they may take heed and mend their ways. It is also made clear to the Muslim community so that it realises who inspires and supports such people.
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.