Tafsir Zone - Surah 4: an-Nisa' (Women )

Tafsir Zone

Surah an-Nisa' 4:74

Overview (Verse 74)

A Good Price for Life
The sūrah moves on, trying to shake these laggards and stimulate in them an ambition to gain the better and longer lasting rewards of the hereafter. It spurs them on to trade-in this life for the life to come, promising them God’s grace and blessings in both worlds and a final outcome of either victory or martyrdom. “Let them fight in God’s cause — all who are willing to barter the life of this world for the life to come. To him who fights in God’s cause, whether he be slain or be victorious, We shall grant a rich reward.” (Verse 74)
Islam recognises no legitimate fighting other than what is taken in support of God’s cause. It does not accept fighting merely for material gain, dominance or glory, whether personal or national. Islam does not advocate fighting for the occupation of land or the domination of other communities. It does not approve of fighting which aims at the acquisition or control of industrial raw materials, or consumer markets or for capital and investment.
Islam does not promote fighting for the glory of a particular individual, dynasty, class, state, nation or race. The only fighting it approves of is that undertaken for God’s cause, to establish His order and way of life in the world, and to ensure that humanity gains from its benefits, blessings and universal justice. Beyond that, everyone is free to choose one’s beliefs, according to one’s convictions, under the universal, humane and Divine system Islam advocates.
When a Muslim, fighting for such a purpose, is killed, he is a martyr and will be rewarded accordingly by God. If he fought for any other objective, he would not be considered a “martyr” and no reward will be stored for him with God. His reward, instead, will come from whatever other benefactor he chose to fight for. To call such people “martyrs” is false and constitutes an affront to God Almighty.
The verse is very specific that those seeking the hereafter in preference to material and immediate reward, should fight in the cause of God, and only then will they receive God’s grace, whether they are killed or achieve victory. “To him who fights in God’s cause, whether he be slain or be victorious, We shall grant a rich reward.”
Thus, the Qur’ān uplifts the souls and characters of Muslims and fills them with hope in God’s grace, whatever the outcome. It alleviates fear of death and temptation for booty, because life and booty mean nothing in comparison with God’s grace. It seeks to dissuade Muslims from going for the losing transaction of trading-in the rewards of the life to come for those of the present life. Such a deal incurs inevitable loss, regardless of their victory or defeat on the battlefield. No comparison can be made between these two types of reward.