Madīnah Period This sūrah , which has 176 verses, was revealed around the sixth year of the Hijrah . It is the first of two sūrah s that begin with the phrase, “O humankind!” When the Qur’ān is divided into two equal parts, Sūrah al-Nisā’ is the fourth sūrah of the first part, while Sūrah H ajj , the second sūrah that begins with “O humankind!” is the fourth sūrah of the second
part. After addressing us in this way, the sūrah draws attention to the origin or beginning of humankind; Sūrah H ajj , in contrast, focuses on the afterlife. Most of the principles that were revealed in order to regulate and govern Muslim civil life are found in this sūrah .
1. o humankind! In due reverence for your Lord, keep from disobedience to
Him who created you from a single human self, and from it created its mate,
and from the pair of them, scattered abroad a multitude of men and women. In
due reverence for God, keep from disobedience to Him in whose name you
make demands of one another, and (duly observe) the rights of the wombs (i.e.
of kinship, thus observing piety in your relations with God and with human be-
ings). God is ever watchful over you. 1
1. From many different aspects, this verse is very significant. However, due to the scope of
this study, we can only discuss a few points here.
The original Arabic that has been translated as “a single human self ” is nafs wāhidah (liter-
ally, a single self or soul.) As mentioned before, nafs has two basic meanings: the self of a
being, and the faculty which is the source or mechanism of the worldly life possessed by
humankind and the jinn. when both meanings are taken into consideration, the phrase “a
single human soul” is preferable as a translation for nafs wāhidah .
There are similar verses in the Qur’ān that support such a choice. For example: And among
His signs is that He has created for you, from your selves, mates, that you may incline to-
wards them and find rest in them, and He has engendered love and tenderness between you
(30: 21); God has made for you, from your selves, mates (spouses), and has made for you
from your mates children and grandchildren, and has provided you with good, wholesome
things (16: 72); The originator of the heavens and the earth, each with particular features;
He has made for you, from your selves, mates, and from the cattle mates (of their kind) ….
(42: 11). what these verses are referring to by the phrase “your selves” is humankind, or the
human self or nature. These verses draw our attention to the fact that everything exists in
the universe in pairs, as is made clear in the verse: And all things we have created in pairs,
so that you may reflect and be mindful (51:49).surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 200
some are of the opinion that what the verse refers to by “a single human self ” is Adam,
upon him be peace. This is not contrary to the preference made in this study, for the Qur’ān
presents Adam, upon him be peace, in the Garden before his earthly life as one who rep-
resents humankind or the human self, rather than as an individual man. However, Adam,
upon him be peace, being used as the representative of the human self is a very subtle
point. It is the male that inseminates and is the primary factor in reproduction. Insemina-
tion can result in either a male child or a female child. That is, a male can beget either a
male or female. If nature had a creative power, as materialists or naturalists claim, a male
could not beget a female; for nature is regularity and constancy. Yet, a female is neither a
“natural” product nor a continuation of a male, nor vice versa. The male and female are the
two halves or mates of a whole; these two halves complete each other, and each has features
that are peculiar to itself. The existence of each depends solely on the Creator’s will and
Power, which are absolute. Nature is neither an originator nor a creative power; rather, it is
a creation, a model, and a regular system established by the Creator.
since the male has the inseminating function in reproduction in pairs, and the human self
from which its mate was created is represented primarily by Adam, upon him be peace,
women mean more as a blessing for men than men mean for women. As pointed out before
( sūrat al-Baqarah , note 21), it is from this perspective that the Qur’ān mentions women as
being among the primary blessings of Paradise for men. As the male is the primary factor in
reproduction in pairs, this means that men have a more dominant position and are charged
naturally with the responsibilities required by this position.
sūrat al-Nisā’ is, in addition to including other aspects, the source of Islamic civil law. This
is why it is of great significance that it begins with the address, “o humankind!” with such
an address, the Qur’ān appeals to human feelings, and brings out the need for being human
in relationships. what is meant is that: “each of you is a human being that shares the same
human nature. You are all the offspring of the same father and mother, and, therefore, you
are all brothers and sisters. This requires that you treat each other as brothers and sisters,
without making any discrimination based on color, race, or language.” By focusing atten-
tion on the rights of kinship, this verse underlines this point, and by mentioning these
rights along with the observation of God’s rights, it stresses their importance.
2. restore their property to the orphans (in your custody, when they come of
age), and do not exchange the corrupt for the good (the unlawful for the law-
ful), nor consume their property by mixing it up with your own. For doing that
would be a great crime (whereby you risk the spiritual reward you hope for by
caring for them).
3. If you fear that you will not be able to observe their rights with exact fair-
ness when you marry the orphan girls (in your custody), you can marry, from
among other women (who are permitted to you in marriage and) who seem
good to you, two, or three, or four. 2 However, if you fear that (in your marital
obligations) you will not be able to observe justice among them, then content
yourselves with only one, or the captives that your right hands possess. 3 doing
so, it is more likely that you will not act rebelliously.surah 4 201 An-Nisa (The women)
2. some people wrongfully criticize Islam because it allows polygamy. such a criticism,
from several perspectives, is not justifiable; some of these perspectives are as follows:
Polygamy is a very ancient practice found in many human societies. The Bible did •
not condemn polygamy. on the contrary, the old Testament and rabbinic writings
frequently attest to the legality of polygamy. King solomon and King david had many
wives and concubines ( 2 samuel : 5: 13). According to Father eugene Hillman in his
insightful book, Polygamy reconsidered , “Nowhere in the New Testament is there
any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit
commandment forbidding polygamy.” Moreover, Jesus, upon him be peace, did not
speak against polygamy, even though it was practiced by the Jews in his society. Father
Hillman stresses the fact that the Church in rome banned polygamy in order to con-
form to Greco-roman culture (which prescribed only one legal wife while tolerating
concubinage and prostitution). The Qur’ān, contrary to the Bible, limits the maxi-
mum number of wives to four, and it imposes the strict condition that all the wives be
treated equally and justly. This should not be seen as the Qur’ān exhorting believers to
practice polygamy, or that polygamy is considered as an ideal state. In other words, the
Qur’ān tolerates or allows polygamy, and nothing more . But why is polygamy permis-
sible? The answer is simple: there are places and times in which there are compelling
social and moral reasons for polygamy. Islam, as a universal religion suitable for all
places and all times, cannot ignore these compelling reasons.
In most human societies, females outnumber males. In America today, there are at •
least eight million more women than men. In a country like Guinea, there are 122
females for every 100 males. In Tanzania, there are 95.1 males per 100 females (Hill-
man, 88-93). what should a society do when faced with such an unbalanced sex ratio?
There are various solutions; some might suggest celibacy, while others prefer female
infanticide (which tragically happens in even some “civilized” societies in the world
today) Yet others may think the only solution is that society should tolerate all man-
ners of sexual permissiveness: prostitution, infidelity, homosexuality, etc.
such an imbalance in the sex ratios becomes truly problematic in times of war. Na- •
tive American Indian tribes used to suffer highly unbalanced sex ratios after military
losses. The women in these tribes, who, in fact, enjoyed a fairly high status, accepted
polygamy as being the best protection against indulgence in indecent activities. After
the second world war, there were 7,300,000 more women than men in Germany
(3.3 million of them were widows). Many of these women needed a man not only
as a companion, but also as a provider for the household in a time of unprecedented
misery and hardship. what is more dignified for a woman—to be an accepted and
respected second wife, as in the Native Indians’ approach, or to be nothing more than
a prostitute? In 1987, a poll conducted by the student newspaper at the university of
California at Berkeley asked students whether they agreed that men should be allowed
by law to have more than one wife. This question was posed in response to a perceived
shortage of male marriage candidates in California. Almost all of the students polled
approved of the idea (J. Lang, struggling to surrender , 172).
up to the present day, polygamy continues to be a viable solution for some of the •
social ills in modern society. Philip Kilbride, an American anthropologist with a ro-
man Catholic background, proposes polygamy as a solution to some of the ills found
in American society in his provocative book, Plural Marriage for our Time . He
argues that plural marriage may serve as a potential alternative for divorce in many surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 202
cases, where it would obviate the damaging impact that divorce has on many children
It should be noted that in many Muslim societies today, the practice of polygamy is •
rare, since there is a better balance between the ratio of the sexes. one can safely say
that the rate of polygamous marriages in the Muslim world is much lower than the
rate of extramarital affairs in the west. In other words, men in the Muslim world
today are far more monogamous, in the absolute sense of the word, than men in the
Moreover, many jurists allow women to stipulate in their marriage contracts (required •
for a Muslim marriage to be valid) that the husband may not take a second wife or
that he must divorce the first wife (with all financial rights that accrue to her when
the husband initiates a divorce) if he takes a second wife. Billy Graham, the eminent
Christian evangelist has recognized this fact: “Christianity cannot compromise on
the question of polygamy. If present-day Christianity cannot do so, it is to its own
detriment. Islam has permitted polygamy as a solution to social ills and has allowed a
certain degree of latitude to human nature, but only within the strictly defined frame-
work of the law. Christian countries make a great show of monogamy, but actually
they practice polygamy. No one is unaware of the part mistresses play in western
society. In this respect, Islam is a fundamentally honest religion, and permits a Muslim
to marry a second wife if he must, but strictly forbids all clandestine amatory associa-
tions in order to safeguard the moral probity of the community.” (‘Abd ar-ra h mān
doi, woman in shari’ah , 76)
There are even psychological factors calling for polygamy. For example, many young •
African brides, whatever their religion, would prefer to marry a man who has already
proved himself to be a responsible husband. Many African wives urge their husbands
to get a second wife so that they will not feel lonely (Hillman, 92–97). A survey of over
six thousand women, ranging in age from 15 to 59, conducted in the second largest
city in Nigeria showed that 60 percent of these women would be pleased if their hus-
bands took another wife. In a survey undertaken in rural Kenya, 25 out of 27 women
considered polygamy to be better than monogamy. These women felt polygamy can be
a happy and beneficial experience if the co-wives cooperate with each other (Kilbride,
Modern civilization rejects polygamy as unwise and disadvantageous to social life. As •
observed even in animals and plants, the purpose for and wisdom in sexual relations is
reproduction. The resulting pleasure is a small payment determined by divine Mercy
to realize this duty. Marriage is for reproduction and the perpetuation of the species.
Being able to give birth at most once a year, able to become pregnant during half of a
month, and entering menopause around 50, a woman is at a reproductive disadvantage
compared to a man, so to speak, who can sometimes impregnate women until the age
of 70 or more. That is why, in most cases, modern civilization is obliged to find new
ways of impregnation at great cost. even if the purpose of marriage were merely sexual
gratification, polygamy would be a lawful way to realize it. (summarized from sherif
3. The following points should be taken into consideration when viewing the
matter of (female-)slavery from within the matrix of Islam:
Islam did not invent or establish the institution of (female-)slavery; rather it found it- • surah 4 203 An-Nisa (The women)
self in an international arena where (female-)slavery was practiced in the most abomi-
nable manner. Islam viewed the matter as related to wartime and dealt with this sub-
ject as if it were a matter of how to treat prisoners of war. Although (female-)slavery,
in various forms, was in practice until recently, Islam adopted a process to abolish it
over the course of time, fourteen centuries ago. It was not Islam, but those who related
themselves to Islam, that were responsible for certain objectionable practices that have
been witnessed in some Muslim communities over the previous centuries.
while international law in the modern world does not date back to more than a few •
centuries, Islam established principles and laws in matters concerning international
relations, such as war and the treatment of the prisoners-of-war over fourteen cen-
turies ago. Imam Muhammad al-shaybānī, who lived twelve centuries ago, was the
first to write a book on international law, al-siyar al-Kabīr. This book is based on the
relevant injunctions in the Qur’ān and on the practice of the Prophet, upon him be
peace and blessings.
Islam forbade the killing of prisoners-of-war, and in place of this, instructed that •
they be distributed among Muslim families. Great importance was attached to their
education and their “owners” were advised to marry the women among them. such
“prisoners-of-war” were to be given the status of free women when they gave birth
to a child. Islam aims at their final emancipation and the eradication of (female-)
slavery. As recompense for many sinful acts, such as breaking fast before the proper
time, Islam required the emancipation of a (female-)slave, and exhorted believers to
emancipate their (female-)slaves, stating that this is a very meritorious act.
without making any gender discrimination, Islam attaches great value to humankind. •
It aims at elevating all human beings to the true rank of humanity, as this is the best
pattern of creation. It regards the women who have attained this rank with their level
of education, character and virtuousness, as being muh s an (protected women). A
woman devoid of such lofty moral and spiritual values, one who presents herself as
merely a physical object of sex, cannot be a muh s an . Attaining this rank requires
true education, and Islam has established rules for each stage or grade. Therefore, the
matter of (female-)slavery has educational and psychological dimensions, in addition
to social and international ones.
As pointed out before ( sūrah : 2, note: 95), with regard to legislation, Islam follows •
three principal ways: it retains the commandments that existed in previous Books or
that prevailed in the community in which it appeared, and which were not contra-
dictory to its essential principles; it corrected or amended the ones that were not in
conformity with its principles; and finally, it installed new legislation. In each of these
ways, Islam followed a gradual process, especially in matters where it required a long
time to eradicate old habits or establish a new approach. The matter of (female-)slav-
ery is one such issue, especially due to its international dimension.
4. Give to the women (whom you marry) their bridal-due (mahr) willingly and
for good (i.e. without expecting a return); however, if of their own accord, they
remit any part of it to you, then you are welcome to enjoy it gladly.
5. do not give to those of weak mind your property that God has put in your
charge (as a means of support for you and for the needy), but feed and clothe
them out of it (especially with the profit you will make by exploiting it), and surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 204
speak to them kindly and words of honest advice.
6. (Care for and) test the orphans well until they reach the age of marriage.
Then, if you find them to be mature of mind, hand over to them their property;
and do not consume it by wasteful spending, nor do so in haste, fearing that they
will come of age (and so take it over). If the guardian is rich (enough to support
himself and his family), let him abstain (from his ward’s property); but if he is
poor, let him consume thereof in a just and reasonable manner. when you hand
(their property) over to them, let there be witnesses on their behalf. God suffices
as one who reckons and settles the accounts (of His servants).
7. For the male heirs is a share out of what parents and near kindred leave be-
hind, and for the female heirs is a share of what parents and near kindred leave
behind, whether it (the inheritance) be little or much – a share ordained by
4. This short verse contains the basic principles of the Islamic law of inheritance
established by the Qur’ān, as well as a significant warning:
Like men, women also have a share in inheritance. •
The property left behind by a deceased person is inherited, no matter the amount. •
It makes no difference whether the inherited property is movable or immovable. •
Any children, parents, grandparents or other near relatives can inherit from another •
person. If there are near kindred, those who are of collateral relations cannot inherit.
Heirs cannot be deprived of inheritance, except for exceptional cases, such as if they •
have killed their testator (at-Tirmidhī, “Farā’id,” 17). (suat Yıldırım, 77.)
The significant warning that is contained in the verse is as follows: In the pre-
Islamic age, women were forbidden from inheriting. By mentioning women or
female heirs separately, in the same way that male heirs are mentioned, i.e. by
reiteration, an emphasis is made, stressing that whether the inheritance is great
or small, women cannot be deprived of it on any pretext, such as the amount
8. If some from among other relatives (who do not have a legally defined share),
and orphans and the destitute, are present at the division (of the inheritance),
give them something thereof (for their provision), and speak to them kindly and
9. Let those be anxious (for the rights of the orphans) who, if they (themselves)
were to leave behind weak offspring, would be fearful on their account – and let
them keep from disobedience to God for fear of His punishment, and let them
speak the truth and proper words (in respect of the division of the inheritance
and their treatment of the orphans).surah 4 205 An-Nisa (The women)
10. surely those who consume the property of orphans wrongfully, certainly
they consume a fire in their bellies; and soon they will be roasting in a Blaze
(the like of which you have never seen, and the degree of whose intensity none
knows except God).
11. God commands you in (the matter of the division of the inheritance among)
your children: for the male is the equivalent of the portion of two females. If
there are more than two females (with no males), for them is two-thirds of
the inheritance; if there is only one, then the half. As for the parents (of the
deceased): for each of the two is one-sixth of the inheritance, in case of his hav-
ing left a child; but if he has left no children and his parents are his only heirs,
then for his mother is one-third. If he has (a surviving mother and, together
with or without sisters,) two or more (surviving) brothers, then for his mother
is one-sixth – (all these commands to be put into effect) after deduction for any
bequest he may have made (provided such bequest is in conformity with the
relevant teachings of Islam) and any debt (incurred by him) (– first the debt
is paid, then the bequest is fulfilled, and then the inheritance is shared). Your
parents and your children: you do not know which of them is nearer to you in
(bringing you) benefit. This (law of inheritance) is an ordinance from God (that
you must absolutely obey). Assuredly, God is All-Knowing (of your affairs and
what benefits or harms you), and All-wise.
12. And for you is a half of what your wives leave behind, if they have no chil-
dren; but if they have a child, then you shall have one-fourth of what they leave
behind – after deduction for any bequest they may have made and any debt
(incurred by them). And for them is one-fourth of what you leave behind, if
you have no children; but if you have a child, then they shall have one-eighth of
what you leave behind – after deduction for any bequest you may have made and
any debt (incurred by you). And if a man or a woman has no heir in the direct
line, but has a brother or a sister (on the mother’s side), for him or her is one-
sixth; but if there are two or more, then they shall be sharers in one-third – after
deduction for any bequest that may have been made or debt; neither (bequest
or debt) intending harm (to the rights of the heirs, in such ways as declaring
fictitious debts or bequeathing more than one-third of one’s estate). A com-
mandment from God. God is All-Knowing (of all your intentions, actions, and
outcomes), All-Clement (not hasty to punish the errors of His servants). 5
5. In these last two verses, the basic principles and standards of the Islamic law of inheri-
tance are laid down; the precise details have been established on these standards and on the
practice of the Prophet and his Companions. Before elucidating some points, we should
consider the fact that these two verses present the Islamic law of inheritance as God’s ab-
solute command, and in their conclusive pronouncements declare that they are based on surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 206
God’s Knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, what we should do is to try to find instances
of His divine wisdom in them. Breaching these orders means disobedience to God and
His Messenger, while rejecting them amounts to unbelief. secondly, Islam is not a religion
that takes up a position of answering objections. whatever it decrees is right and just. so,
our intention, while explaining Islam’s position in matters that have been made the target
of objections during recent times, is to illuminate sincere minds.
According to the Islamic law of inheritance, with the exception of the father and •
mother, and in some cases, the brothers and sisters, a son receives twice as much as a
daughter, a brother twice as much as a sister and a husband twice as much as a wife.
Islam is universal, taking into consideration and addressing the conditions of all ages •
and communities. Its worldview is holistic and it deals with particular matters in a
universal frame. so, when viewing its law of inheritance, we should consider many
psychological and sociological factors, such as the psychology of women and men,
their positions and financial responsibilities in the family and society, and their con-
tribution to the economy. we should evaluate every matter with respect to its own
nature and within its own framework, and not be misled by theoretical abstractions
disconnected from lived reality, such as absolute equality, the pursuit of which can
often result in loss of equity and balance.
In order to understand the rationale behind why Islam, in some cases, gives women •
half the share of men, one must take into account the fact that the financial obliga-
tions of men in Islam far exceed those of women. A bridegroom must provide his
bride with a marriage gift. This gift becomes her exclusive property and remains so
even if she is later divorced. The bride is under no obligation to present any gifts to her
husband. Moreover, the Muslim husband is charged with the maintenance of his wife
and children. The wife, on the other hand, is not obliged to help him in this regard.
Her property and earnings are for her use alone, except what she may voluntarily offer
her husband. Moreover, one has to realize that Islam strongly advocates family life. It
positively encourages young people to get married and discourages divorce. Therefore,
in a truly Islamic society, family life is the norm, while single life is the rare exception.
That is, almost all women and men of a marriageable age will be married in an Islamic
society. In light of these facts, one can appreciate that Muslim men, in general, have
greater financial burdens than Muslim women, and the inheritance rules take account
of this reality (see sherif Muhammad).
when a woman inherits less than a man does, she is not actually deprived of anything •
for which she has worked. Any property that is inherited is not the result of her earn-
ing or her endeavors. It is something that comes from a neutral source, something
additional or extra. It is something that neither the man nor the woman has struggled
for. It is a sort of aid, and any aid has to be distributed according to the most urgent
needs and responsibilities, especially when the distribution is regulated by God’s law (
The Qur’ānic injunction of inheritance is a perfect mercy for women, in addition to •
its being perfectly just. Because a young girl is sensitive and vulnerable, she must be
looked on with affection by her father. Thanks to the Qur’ānic injunction concerning
inheritance, the father does not see her as a child who will cause him loss by carrying
away to others half of his wealth. In addition, her brothers feel compassion for her and
protect her, without feeling envy; they do not consider her as a rival in the division surah 4 207 An-Nisa (The women)
of the family possessions. Thus, the affection and compassion which the girl enjoys
through her family compensates for her apparent loss in inheritance.
some still object that a woman’s share should, from the beginning, be equal to that of •
man, and then we would not be compelled to compensate her by allowing her a dowry
and maintenance on the part of her husband.
Those who make this objection think that the dowry and the maintenance are the results
of women’s peculiar position with regard to inheritance, whereas the reality is just the op-
posite. Furthermore, they seem to be under the impression that the financial aspect is the
only consideration. Had that been the only consideration, obviously there would have been
neither a need for the system of dowry and maintenance, nor would there be a disparity
between the shares of men and women. As we have mentioned earlier, Islam has taken into
consideration many aspects, some of them natural and others psychological. In most cases,
in her parents’ house, her contribution to the family income is much less than that of her
brother(s). Also, a son has to look after his mother if the father dies, while the mother will
not have to support herself from this portion, nor will any unmarried daughter have to sup-
port herself from her share in an Islamic society; in effect, their shares are for their personal
use. other psychological and social aspects, which help in the consolidation of domestic
relations, have also been considered (M. Mutahhari).
It is for this reason that it would be a severe injustice, and not at all a kindness, to •
institute a larger share for a girl or woman, to give her more than is her due, merely
out of “compassion.” This is unrealistic because no one can be more compassionate
than God. rather, if Qur’ānic bounds are exceeded, women may become, for the rea-
sons we have given, vulnerable to exploitation and tyranny in the family, especially in
view of the barbaric selfishness of certain times. As for the Qur’ānic injunctions, all
of them, like those pertaining to inheritance, prove the truth expressed in the verse,
we have not sent you (o Muhammad) with the mission of Messengership, but as an
unequalled mercy for all the worlds (21: 107).
Islam does not support the idea that wealth is a fortune circulated among a small •
minority. It wants the wealth to be distributed among as many people as possible.
Concerning inheritance, onsidering that God’s grace and bountifulness have a share
in it, it is strongly advised, even ordered, that distant relatives, orphans, and the poor
should also benefit from any wealth.
13. These are the bounds set by God. whoever obeys God and His Messenger
(by remaining within these bounds), God will admit him into Gardens through
which rivers flow, abiding therein. That is the supreme triumph.
14. But whoever disobeys God and His Messenger and exceeds His bounds,
God will admit him into a Fire, to abide therein, and for him is a shameful,
15. such of your women as have committed indecency (unlawful sex), there
must be four male witnesses of you who (having seen them in the act) will testify
against them (within one succeeding month in towns, and six months in the
rural areas). If they do bear witness, then confine those women to their houses
until death takes them away or God opens some way for them.surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 208
16. when two from among you have committed it, then punish them both by
scolding and beating; but if they are remorseful and repent, and make amends,
then withdraw from them. 6 Assuredly, God is He who accepts repentance and
returns it with liberal forgiveness, All-Compassionate.
6. unjust killing, fornication and adultery, theft and usurpation, anarchy and terror, open
and rebellious apostasy, slander, and partaking of intoxicating substances, including drugs,
are the most grievous crimes in Islam. Muslim Law aims at the protection of the faith, the
mind, life, property, and healthy reproduction; the most severe punishments are applied for
Although there are different opinions concerning these two verses, the view which has been
most widely accepted is that they are complementary to one another. while verse 15 is con-
cerned only with Muslim women guilty of indulging in unlawful sex, verse 16 concerns the
act of unlawful sex, the partners of which are known. The reason why the Qur’ān has estab-
lished the matter in this way and mentions women separately must be that, just as there are
brothels and similar places in modern societies, women engaged in prostitution were also
around during the pre-Islamic period of Jāhiliyyah . so, as an important step on the way to
the decisive banning and prevention of prostitution, and of any other kind of unlawful sex,
the Qur’ān mentions women separately. Then, it proceeds to mention individual cases of
unlawful sex where the partners are known to have committed this act.
As with several other commandments, Islam followed a gradual process in laying down the
final penalty for unlawful sex. First, in these two verses, it prescribed that the Muslims who
had committed such an act should be scolded and beaten, and that the female partners be
kept in houses in order to prevent prostitution. The expression, or God opens some way
for them, which meant that a new, final commandment would be revealed, resulted in the
execution of the adulterous married couples according to the Prophet’s practice, and strik-
ing the unmarried ones with a whip 100 times (see 24: 2).
In note 131 of sūrat al-Baqarah , the basic principles upon which the Islamic Penal Law is
based were summarized. Taking into consideration the penalty for adultery, we should add
the following points:
during the Makkan period, the following was revealed to the believers (18: 26, 31-35, •
59): give relatives, the needy and wayfarers their due; kill nobody unjustly, including
children; refrain from adultery; do not consume the property of orphans; and do not
deceive in weighing and measuring. These came as principles of wisdom, in return for
whose violation no penalty was prescribed. However, in Madīnah, where an Islamic
government was established after the Companions’ swearing a pledge to the Messen-
ger, these provisions became articles of law, the violation of which brought a penalty.
This shows that the Islamic Penal Law was put into effect in a system established on
the basis of the Islamic creed, worldview, worship, behavior, standards of morality, and
social and economic structure. Thus, the penal law should be evaluated within the
entirety of Islam.
Islam followed a gradual process in laying down the final penalty for crimes, such as •
adultery and the consumption of alcohol, and the penalties prescribed before the final
one were not removed from the Qur’ān, despite their being abrogated. This means surah 4 209 An-Nisa (The women)
that an Islamic community is one that is gradually perfected along with the imple-
mentation of Islamic rules. It resembles a healthy body. every crime committed in
such a community is like a disease threatening the body, according to its nature and
degree. rebellious apostasy, killing, anarchy, terror, adultery, consuming intoxicating
substances, slander, theft and usurpation are the most deadly of diseases. Just as some
diseases require medicine for recovery, while others need radiotherapy, and still others
require an operation, so too, the diseases that threaten a healthy social body require the
same kind of therapies, each according to its nature and degree of intensity.
with its principles of creed, worship, good conduct or behavior, morality, and social •
and economic structure, Islam prevents people from committing crimes. It can be said
that Islam makes it 95% more difficult to commit deadly sins or crimes, and leaves
the remaining 5% to human free will. Therefore, it is clear that those who commit the
grave crimes mentioned in the previous note are diseased elements in a truly Islamic
Islam has made it considerably difficult to establish and prove adultery and to imple- •
ment the prescribed penalty. The number of those who have been proven to be guilty
of adultery or theft and who have been punished during the thirteen centuries of
Islam until the 14 th century after the Hijrah was extremely small. The incidents of
adultery and theft that occur in a single year in one so-called modern, civilized coun-
try, and the complications, such as divorce, the collapse of families, suicide, murder,
and depression, all caused by such events, far exceed the number of such incidents dur-
ing the thirteen centuries of Islamic history throughout all the Muslim lands. should
not those who criticize Islam for the penalties it prescribes for grievous crimes view
the matter from this perspective, at least, if they are not ignorant of the truth of the
matter nor prejudiced opponents of Islam?
In the Bible, there are many examples of adultery, all of which were punished either •
by stoning or burning, or in some other way. Furthermore, these kinds of punishment
were not restricted only to adultery; if a man married a woman and her daughter at
the same time, all three were killed by burning ( Leviticus , 20: 10–21). There is no
commandment in the Gospels that abrogates these laws. we can only find an episode
in John (8: 3-11), where Jesus, upon him be peace, refused to judge on the stoning of
an adulterous woman brought before him. The reason why he did this is quite clear.
The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.
They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, upon him be peace: “Teacher,
this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to
stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in
order to have a basis for accusing him. If Jesus, upon him be peace, had ordered her to
be stoned, they would have objected: “did you not order mercy?” If he had not, they
would have protested: “did you not declare that you accepted Moses’ Law?” Jesus,
upon him be peace, started to write on the ground with his finger, and said: “If any
one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” By so doing, he
taught a lesson. At his time, the Jewish community was highly contaminated by sins.
Those who wanted to make him exercise a commandment were the same persons
who were foremost in disobedience to the Law, yet it was they who had to preserve it
and judge by it. There was no ground propitious for implementing the Law, nor was
Jesus, upon him be peace, in the position to implement it. so, this event is not one
that shows there was no penalty for adultery in the Gospels, but rather one which
demonstrates the spirit of the religious – Islamic – Penal Law. surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 210
Furthermore, the Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, brought stricter moral and
spiritual sanctions against adultery: “You have heard that it was said to those of
old: ‘ You shall not commit adultery .’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a
woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If
your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more
profitable for you that one of your membersperish, than for your whole body to
be cast into hell” ( Matthew, 5: 27–29).
Islam is not aimed at the satisfaction of animal appetites at any cost, as are secu- •
lar, materialist civilizations; rather, it urges the spirit to true human perfection and
the bringing up of virtuous generations, whose minds are enlightened with scientific
knowledge and whose hearts are illuminated with pure spiritual values.
17. God’s acceptance of repentance is only for those who commit evil due to an
instance of defeat to evil commanding soul, and then (pull themselves together
and) repent shortly afterwards. It is they whose repentance God returns with
forgiveness; and God is All-Knowing (of what everyone does and why), and
18. But of no avail is the repentance of those who commit evil (for a lifetime)
until, when one of them is visited by death, he says, “Indeed, now I repent.” Nor
(likewise does the repentance avail) of those who (spend their lives in unbelief
and offer to repent just at the time of death, but) die as unbelievers (since such
repentance is not acceptable). For such, we have prepared a painful punish-
19. o you who believe! It is not lawful for you to become inheritors, against their
will, of women (of your deceased kinsmen, marrying them against their will,
without paying their bridal-due, or forcing them to marry others in return for
their bridal-due, as though they were a part of heritable property); nor should
you constrain your wives in order to take away anything of what you have given
them (as bridal-due or bridal gift), unless they be guilty of indecency in an obvi-
ous manner (such as to justify divorce). Consort with them in a good manner,
for if you are not pleased with them, it may well be that you dislike something
but God has set in it much good.
20. But if you still decide to dispense with a wife and marry another, and you
have given the former (even so much as amounts to) a treasure, do not take back
anything thereof. would you take it back by slandering (for the purpose of con-
triving the kind of divorce that allows you to take it back), and so committing
a flagrant sin?
21. Then, how could you take it back when you have gone in to each other, and
they (the married women) have taken from you a most solemn pledge (of hon-surah 4 211 An-Nisa (The women)
oring their rights)?
22. And do not marry the women whom your fathers married – except what has
happened (of that sort) in the past (before your conversion; such occurrences are
forgivable provided you rectify your conduct and terminate any such contract of
marriage). This was indeed a shameful deed and hateful thing, and how evil a
23. Forbidden to you (o believing men) are your mothers (including stepmoth-
ers and grandmothers) and daughters (including granddaughters), your sisters
(including full sisters and half-sisters), your aunts paternal and maternal, your
brothers’ daughters, your sisters’ daughters, your mothers who have given suck to
you, your milk-sisters (all those as closely related to you through milk as through
descent7), your wives’ mothers, your stepdaughters – who are your foster-chil-
dren, born of your wives with whom you have consummated marriage; but if
you have not consummated marriage with them, there will be no blame on you
(should you marry their daughters) – and the spouses of your sons who are of
your loins, and to take two sisters together in marriage (including a niece and
her aunt, maternal or paternal)8 – except what has happened (of that sort) in the
past. surely God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
7/8. Marrying not only milk-mothers and milk-sisters but all of those who have as close a
relationship through milk as through descent (i.e. nieces or nephews from milk), and mar-
rying a niece and her aunt together were prohibited by the Messenger, upon him be peace
and blessings, based either on the revelation or by inference from this verse.
24. And (also forbidden to you are) all married women, save those (captives)
whom your right hands possess (and whose ties with their husbands have practi-
cally been cut off). This is God’s decree, binding upon you. Lawful for you are
all beyond those mentioned, that you may seek, offering them of your wealth,
taking them in sound chastity (i.e. in marriage), and not in licentiousness. And
whomever of them you seek to enjoy in marriage (under these conditions), give
them their bridal-due as a duty. But there is no blame on you for what you do
by mutual agreement after the duty (has been done). Assuredly, God is All-
Knowing (of what you do and why), and All-wise.
25. If any of you cannot afford to marry free, believing women, (let them marry)
believing maidens from among those whom your right hands possess. (do not
regard marriage to such believing maidens as a degradation. rather, degradation
is deviating into licentiousness without marrying.) God knows well all about
your faith (and measures you by it); and (whether you be free or slaves) you
are one from another (belonging, as believers, to the same faith and commu-
nity). Marry them, then, with the leave of their guardians, and give them their surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 212
bridal-due according to religiously lawful and customary good practice, they
being women who give themselves in honest chastity, not in licentiousness, nor
having secret love-companions. 9 Then if they commit indecency after they have
entered into wedlock, they shall be liable to half the penalty to which free (un-
married) women are liable. That (permission to marry slave-girls) is for those of
you who fear to fall into sin (by remaining unmarried). But if you persevere (in
self-restraint with no fear of falling into sin), that is better for you. And God is
9. In these last two verses, the Qur’ān indicates an important social reality and clarifies an
aspect of female slavery. while the previous verse warns men who will marry believing,
free women not to stray into ways of indecency, like adultery, this verse admonishes that
female slaves should also refrain from such deviations. It also mentions the matter of mar-
rying female slaves in the case of men who fear deviation into unlawful ways if they were
to remain unmarried. what we can understand from this is that men are more susceptible
to deviation than women. A free Muslim woman is so far from falling that it is not even
contemplated; such a woman is extremely careful about her chastity. A believing female
slave may be susceptible.
we conclude from this that in the view of Islam a free, Muslim, chaste woman is the ideal
of respectable womanhood; others, though believers, may not be careful about their chastity
and, therefore, do not enjoy the same status or respect. A woman loses her right to respect
when she indulges in indecency or she presents herself as a sexual object, using her physical
charms to allure; this means that she has fallen from the rank of true humanity. similarly,
respected members of a pure, Islamic society cannot perceive of women as sexual objects.
Islam regards indecencies such as fornication, adultery, and prostitution as the most abomi-
nable things, and sees these as the cause of people falling lower than animals. The sexual
drive in animals is directed at reproduction; it is not just a desire to be satisfied in any way,
at any means. For example, bull-camels smell the urine of a she-camel in order to learn
whether the camel has been inseminated or not. They will not mate otherwise.
26. God wills to explain to you (His commandments in which your happiness
lie), and to guide you to the (righteous) ways of life of those who preceded you,
and to turn to you (with mercy and favor). God is All-Knowing, All-wise.
27. God wills to turn to you (with mercy and favor by explaining to you His
commandments and guiding you to the straight Path), whereas those who fol-
low (their) lusts (for women, offspring, wealth, fame, status, and position) desire
you to deviate greatly (from the straight Path).
28. God wills to lighten for you (your burdens), for human has been created
weak (liable to err). 10
10. Humanity is, so to speak, riddled with many weak spots. so we must be educated and
liberated from our weak points. An important dimension of education is to keep the sphere
of permission so wide as to satisfy the vital needs and lawful human desires and lay down surah 4 213 An-Nisa (The women)
such prohibitions that will prevent people from going to extremes. religious prohibitions
and other responsibilities are not a burden on humanity; rather, they serve to lighten a bur-
den which would otherwise crush them. The sphere of permission in Islam is wide enough
for humanity to lead a perfect, human life, and to remove all possibility of conflict between
the human spirit and bodily desires. so any kind of satisfaction sought outside that sphere
is a great burden for the human heart and spirit to bear, and a torment upon torment, and
a means of suffering and disasters for the family and social life.
29. o you who believe! do not consume one another’s wealth in wrongful ways
(such as theft, extortion, bribery, usury, and gambling), except it be dealing by
mutual agreement; and do not destroy yourselves (individually or collectively by
following wrongful ways like extreme asceticism and idleness. Be ever mind-
ful that) God has surely been All-Compassionate toward you (particularly as
30. whoever acts wrongfully through enmity (toward others) and by way of
deliberate transgression and wronging (both himself and others), we will surely
land him in a Fire to roast therein (the like of which you have never seen, and
the degree of whose intensity none knows except God); that indeed is easy for
31. If you avoid the major sins 11 which you have been forbidden, we will blot
out from you your minor evil deeds and make you enter by a noble entrance (to
an abode of glory).
11. The major sins are those in return for committing which God or His Messenger threat-
ens a severe punishment in the Hereafter, and for some of which there is (also) a prescribed
punishment in the world. disbelieving in God and/or associating partners with Him are
the greatest of the major sins. The others are despairing of God’s mercy; regarding one-
self as secure from His punishment; disrespecting one’s parents or failing to observe their
rights; unjust killing; fornication and adultery; consuming the property of others, especially
that of orphans; theft; engaging in usury; turning back (as a soldier) when the army ad-
vances, or fleeing from battle-front; slandering the reputation of chaste women; sorcery;
drinking alcohol; gambling; exchanging God’s covenant and the oaths taken in His Name
for worldly advantages; betraying public trusts; giving false evidence in a court; not carrying
out any of the obligatory religious duties (such as abandoning the Prescribed Prayer, not
paying the Zakāh (Prescribed Purifying Alms), not fasting the rama d ān, or not going to
the Major Pilgrimage), and barring people from God’s way.It is said that no sin for which
one has sincerely repented and asked for God’s forgiveness is great, and no sin that has been
committed continuously and without repentance is considered to be minor.
32. (People differ from each other in capacity and means of livelihood, and it
is not in your hands to be born male or female. Therefore) do not covet that
in which God has made some of you excel others (thus envying others in such
things as status or wealth, or physical charms, and so objecting to God’s distri-surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 214
bution). Men shall have a share according to what they have earned (in both
material and spiritual terms), and women shall have a share according to what
they have earned. (on the other hand, do not refuse effort and aspiration; instead
of envying others,) ask God (to give you more) of His bounty (through lawful
labor and through prayer). Assuredly, God has full knowledge of everything.
33. And to everyone, we have appointed heirs to what the parents and near
kindred might leave behind. (As those heirs have defined portions in the inheri-
tance that must be given them,) so to those with whom you have made a solemn
covenant, give them their due share. God is indeed a witness over everything.
34. Men (those who are able to carry out their responsibilities) are the protectors
and maintainers of women inasmuch as God has endowed some of people (in
some respects) with greater capacity than others, and inasmuch as they (the men)
spend of their wealth (for the family’s maintenance). Good, righteous women
are the devoted ones (to God) and observant (of their husbands’ rights), who
guard the secrets (family honor and property, their chastity, and their husband’s
rights, especially where there is none to see them, and in the absence of men,) as
God guards and keeps undisclosed (what should be guarded and private). As for
those women from whose determined disobedience and breach of their marital
obligations you have reason to fear, admonish them (to do what is right); then,
(if that proves to be of no avail), remain apart from them in beds; then (if that
too proves to be of no avail), beat them lightly (without beating them in their
faces). Then, if they obey you (in your directing them to observe God’s rights
and their marital obligations), do not seek ways against them (to harm them).
(Be ever mindful that) God is indeed All-exalted, All-Great. 12
12. This verse is highly significant for male–female relationships and family law. It draws
attention to the following cardinal points:
God has not created all people exactly the same in all respects, but rather has given •
each person a form of superiority in some respect to others; this is a requirement of so-
cial life and is the origin of the division of labor and the need for variety of occupation.
Although it is not true to the same degree with all men and women, He has created
men, in some respects, superior to women, while He has also given women superiority
over men in other respects.
As a general rule, God has given men greater physical strength than women and •
endowed them with a greater capacity for management, as the fact that even in the
modern world, administrators are usually men proves. He has also charged men with
the financial responsibility of the family. Again, this is not true to the same degree for
all men and women; there will, of course, be some women who are better managers
than some men. This is why He has made men the head of the family. However, this
does not mean that men have absolute authority in the family; rather, this authority
must be exercised according to the Prophetic principle: The master of a people is he surah 4 215 An-Nisa (The women)
who serves them . But responsibility is proportionate to authority, and authority is
proportionate to responsibility.
Men are generally responsible for the well-being and prosperity of the family mem- •
bers. so while the verse directs men as to how they should treat rebellious women who
are of bad conduct, it guides them to a gradual means of education: admonish them
(to do what is right); then, (if that proves to be of no avail), remain apart from them
in beds; then (if that too proves to be of no avail), beat them lightly (without slapping
them in their faces). All of the Qur’ānic commentators of the early period, whose
opinions Ibn Jarīr at- T abarī mentioned in his Tafsī r interpreted the verb d arb in
the verse to mean beating or striking lightly.
It should be noted that these measures are aimed at education and saving the marriage
from collapse in case of a wife’s rebelliousness. It is not a matter of women being beaten
only because they are women, but rather this punishment is only applicable to a truly rebel-
lious person who is of evil conduct, a person who displays obstinacy, not only not doing her
duty in the home but also one who does not care about good moral conduct; in short, such
a woman is not only wronging her family, she is also wronging herself.
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, interpreted the verse to mean that the
beating should be light and only employed as a last resort in extreme cases such as lewd-
ness committed by the wife; he warned men to refrain from beating as much as possible,
and slapping in the faces (at-Tirmidhī, “Kitāb at-Tafsīr, Tawbah,” 1 ; Abū dāwūd,
“Nikāh,” 42). The last part of the verse is also of the same import. Furthermore, the Mes-
senger condemned any unjustifiable beating. He exhorted men to be good to their families,
saying: “The best of you is he who is best to his family, and I am the best among you to my
family” (Ibn Mājah, “Nikā h ” 50). He advised a Muslim woman, Fātimah bint Qays, not to
marry a man known for beating women (Muslim, “Talaq,” 36).
on the other hand, Islam never leaves women unprotected in the face of men’s harsh treat-
ment and negligence of their family duties. First, it advises reconciliation: If a woman fears
from her husband ill-treatment or (such breach of marital obligations as) his turning away
in aversion, then there will be no blame on them to set things right peacefully between
them; peaceful settlement is better…. (o husbands) if you do good in consciousness of God
and act in reverence for Him and piety (in observing the rights of women), then surely God
is fully aware of what you do (4: 128). However, it does not advise women to resort to the
two measures of leaving their husbands in bed and beating. This must be because it seeks to
protect the wife from a violent physical reaction by her already misbehaving husband. But
it recognizes the woman’s right to resort to the court and even demand divorce. Muslim
scholars suggest that the court can apply the same three measures in question against the
husband on the wife’s behalf.
No system or religion has a right to ask Islam to apologize for any of its commandments,
including this one concerning women. on the contrary, every other system is humiliated
before Islam. All surveys conducted show that women have been subjected to abuse in
almost all other “religions” and systems, and this still continues in the modern, “civilized”
world. In contrast, the periods when Islam was being practiced consciously were a golden
age for women. To cite a single example, what foreign travelers and observers wrote during
the first quarter of the 18 th century – a time when all the Muslim world, including the ot-
toman state, was in decline—is enough to clarify this point:No one locks their house in the surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 216
city where about one million people live because no theft has ever been reported. You do
not see a vagabond, nor a beggar, nor one who shouts loudly in the streets. women receive
the greatest respect at home and enjoy certain authority. There is nothing more abominable
to stare at a woman walking in the street, and especially raising a hand to beat them. It is
impossible to describe the beauty of the Turkish women (djevad, 35-36 [Quoted from Mr.
Porter, British Ambassador to Turkey]).
35. And if you fear that a breach might occur between a couple, appoint an ar-
biter from among his people and an arbiter from among her people. If they both
want to set things aright, God will bring about reconciliation between them.
Assuredly, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.
36. And (as the essential basis of contentment in individual, family and social
life,) worship God and do not associate anything as a partner with Him; and
do good to your parents in the best way possible, and to the relatives, orphans,
the destitute, the neighbor who is near (in kinship, location, faith), the neighbor
who is distant (in kinship and faith), the companion by your side (on the way,
in the family, in the workplace, etc.), the wayfarer, and those who are in your
service. (Treat them well and bring yourself up to this end, for) God does not
love those who are conceited and boastful;
37. Those who act meanly (in spending out of what God has granted them) and
urge others to be mean, and conceal the things God has granted them out of His
bounty (such as wealth or knowledge, and certain truths in their Book). we have
prepared for (such) unbelievers a shameful, humiliating punishment.
38. And (likewise) those who spend their wealth (in charity or other good cause)
to make a show of it to people (so as to be praised by them) when they believe
neither in God nor in the Last day: whoever has satan for a comrade, how evil
a comrade he is!
39. why, what (harm) would fall upon them, if they believed in God and the
Last day, and spent out of what God has provided for them (purely for the
pleasure of God), and God has full knowledge of them (of what they believe in
and what they spend)?
40. Assuredly, God wrongs (no one) not even so much as an atom’s weight; while
if there is a good deed, He multiplies it (with respect to its outcomes and the
reward it will bring), and grants (its doer) a tremendous reward purely from His
Presence (beyond what it may have merited).
41. How, then, will it be (with people on the day of Judgment) when we bring
forward a witness from every community (to testify against them and that God’s
religion was communicated to them), and bring you (o Messenger) as a wit-surah 4 217 An-Nisa (The women)
ness against all those (whom your Message may have reached)?
42. on that day, those who disbelieved (in this life and died in unbelief) and
disobeyed the Messenger wish that the earth might be leveled with them (so as
to leave no trace or record of them); but they will not be able to conceal from
God any telling (of what they said or did).
43. o you who believe! do not come forward to (stand in) the Prayer while you
are in (any sort of) a state of drunkenness until you know what you are saying,
nor while you are in the state of ritual impurity (requiring the total ablution)
– save when you are on a journey (and then unable to bathe) – until you have
bathed (done the total ablution). But if you are ill or on a journey, or if any of you
has just satisfied a call of nature, or you have had contact with women, and can
find no water, then betake yourselves to pure earth, passing with it lightly over
your face and hands (and forearms up to and including the elbows). surely God
is one who grants remission, All-Forgiving.
44. do you not see and reflect upon those who were given a portion from the
Book? They are occupied with buying straying, and desire that you, too, should
stray from the (right) way.
45. (o believers!) God knows best who your enemies are; and God suffices as
Guardian and Protecting Friend, and God suffices as Helper.
46. Among those who have become Jews (Judaized) are some who alter the
words from their context to distort their meanings, and say: “we have heard and
we disobey,” and, “do hear us, may you turn dumb,” (while pretending to say,
“will you hearken to us, o respected one!”), and “Listen to us! May you become
deaf, o shepherd!” (while pretending to say, “Attend to us!”) – thus making a
malicious play with their tongues and seeking to revile the (True) religion. Had
they but said, “we have heard and we obey,” and “Listen to us,” and “Favor us
with your attention!”, it would indeed have been for their own good, and more
upright. But God has excluded them from His mercy because of their (willful,
persistent) unbelief, and, but for a few, scarcely do they believe.
47. o you who were given the Book (before)! Believe (sincerely) in (the whole
of) what we have been sending down (on Muhammad), confirming what (of
the truth) you already possess, before we obliterate faces so as to deprive them
of seeing, hearing, speaking and smelling, or exclude them from our mercy
as we excluded the sabbath-breakers. (Bear in mind that) God’s command is
48. Assuredly, God does not forgive that partners be associated with Him; less surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 218
than that, He forgives to whomever He wills (whomever He has guided to re-
pentance and righteousness, either out of His pure grace or as a result of the
person’s choosing repentance and righteousness by his free will). whoever as-
sociates any partner with God has indeed fabricated a most heinous sin.
49. do you (o Messenger) not consider those who regard themselves pure and
sanctified? No! rather, it is God who makes pure and sanctifies whomever He
wills (considering the free will of each), and none is wronged even by as much
as a tiny hair.
50. Look! How they fabricate falsehood in attribution to God; and that suffices
for a flagrant sin (to lead them to their perdition).
51. do you not consider those who were given a portion of the Book, how they
believe in any false deity and all manner of powers of evil (who institute pat-
terns of faith and rule in defiance of God), and say about those (idolaters) who
disbelieve that they are more rightly guided (in the way they follow) than those
52. such are the ones whom God has excluded from His mercy, and he whom
God excludes from His mercy, you shall never find one to help and save him.
53. or do they have a share in the sovereignty (absolute ownership and domin-
ion of the heavens and the earth, so that they claim some privileged position in
God’s sight and a right to guidance, Prophethood, and rule on the earth)? If that
were so, they would not give people even as much as (would fill) the groove of
54. or do they envy others for what God granted them out of His grace and
bounty? Yet we did grant the Family of Abraham (including the progeny of
Ishmael proceeding from him, as well as that of Isaac) the Book and the wis-
dom, and we granted them a mighty kingdom (in both the material and spiri-
55. Among them (those belonging to Abraham’s progeny) have been and are
such as truly believe in him (and, therefore, they believe in Muhammad, who
has the best claim to a relationship with Abraham, and believe in the Qur’an
revealed to him), and among them are such as bar people from him (like some
from among those who were given the Book before). (For the latter,) Hell suf-
fices for a blaze.
56. Those who (knowingly) conceal and reject our revelations, we will land
them in a Fire to roast there. every time their skins are burnt off, we will replace
them with other skins, that they may taste the punishment. Assuredly, God is surah 4 219 An-Nisa (The women)
All-Glorious with irresistible might, All-wise.
57. But those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, we will admit them
into the Gardens through which rivers flow, therein abiding for ever. Therein
for them will be spouses purified, and we will admit them to an all-protecting
shade (ease and contentment).
58. God commands you to deliver trusts (including public and professional du-
ties of service) to those entitled to them; and when you judge between people,
to judge with justice. How excellent is what God exhorts you to do. surely God
is All-Hearing, All-seeing.
59. o you who believe! obey God and obey the Messenger, and those from
among you who are invested with authority; and if you are to dispute among
yourselves about anything, refer it to God and the Messenger, if indeed you
believe in God and the Last day. This is the best (for you), and fairest in the
13. These last two verses lay down the fundamental principles for a sound Islamic social
The entrusting of all public duties and positions to those qualified for them; •
ensuring justice in public affairs and judgment; •
Having absolute obedience to God and His Messenger, upon him be peace and bless- •
ensuring that the critical posts and positions, especially, are assigned to the believers •
qualified for them, and ensuring that their commands are obeyed, provided they are
in conformity with the Qur’ān and the sunnah of the Messenger, upon him be peace
referring controversial matters and differences to the Qur’ān and the sunna; •
And, as the most influential sanction for the maintenance of the system, having real •
belief in God and the Last day. The command of obeying being mentioned twice,
once for God and once for the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, indicates
that the Messenger is infallible and has the right to legislate alongside the Qur’ān.
He must be obeyed in his orders, both as a President and a Prophet; his orders or
prohibitions and way of life comprise his sunnah, which is to be strictly followed until
the Last day, while his presidency ended with his death. The command of obeying
is not mentioned for administrators specifically. This means that obedience to them
is conditional. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, clarified this point
by saying that there is no obedience in sin or rebellion against God (al-Bukhārī, “A h
kām,” 4; Muslim, “‘Imârah,” 46). They must be obeyed in their orders, as long as these
are not contrary to the sharī‘ah. However, disobedience does not mean revolt. It is laid
out in relevant books of Islamic law what Muslim people can do to protest against
Another point to note here is that Islam refers all the functions fulfilled by modern demo-surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 220
cratic or undemocratic systems of government to the Muslim community itself. This means
that these functions are duties that are to be shared and fulfilled by the community. The
institution of swearing allegiance in Islam also demonstrates this. The system of govern-
ment is a kind of social contract and division of labor.
60. do you not consider those who assert that they believe in what has been sent
down to you and what was sent before you, and yet desire to go for judgment in
their disputes to (the rule of) the powers of evil (who institute patterns of rule
in defiance of God), when they were expressly commanded to reject it. 14 Truly,
satan desires to lead them far astray.
14. The holy Qur’ān is a miracle of eloquence and conciseness from beginning to the end.
one of the aspects of its eloquence is that while reporting an incident, it uses the incident
as a reason to promulgate a new rule or declare a universal truth, without drifting away
from the incident.
The word tāghūt (powers of eviwhich institute patterns of rule in defiance of God) is used
both in singular and plural. In this verse, in the clause when they were expressly com-
manded to reject him , the Qur’ān refers to a particular person included in the meaning
of tāghūt , who was known to its first addressees during the time of the Messenger, upon
him be peace and blessings. By mentioning an incident, it presents an important aspect of
hypocrisy, which is that although hypocrites claim to believe in God’s Book and, therefore,
must practice it in their daily lives, they also continue to ignore justice and what is right,
seeking other authorities whose judgment they hope will be to their advantage. By present-
ing an incident which took place during the Messenger’s time, the Qur’ān draws attention
to this aspect of hypocrisy and declares a very important truth or requirement of faith: if
you believe in God’s Book, you must refer to its judgment in the disputes among you and
submit to it wholeheartedly. You cannot seek another authority in the settlement of the
issues among you.
61. when they were told: “Come to that which God has sent down and to the
Messenger (and submit to God’s judgment),” you see the hypocrites turn away
from you with disgust.
62. But how then, when a disaster befalls them because of what they have for-
warded with their own hands (to their future), they come to you, swearing by
God and say: “we intended only goodwill and conciliation!”
63. such are the ones – God knows what is in their hearts; so withdraw from
them (do not care what they say and do), and (continue to) admonish them, and
say to them profound words touching their very souls.
64. (everyone should know well that) we have never sent a Messenger but that
he should be obeyed by God’s leave. If, when they wronged themselves (by com-
mitting a sin), they but came to you and implored God to forgive them – with
the Messenger praying to God for their forgiveness – they would find that God surah 4 221 An-Nisa (The women)
is one who returns the repentance of His servants with liberal forgiveness and
additional reward, and All-Compassionate.
65. But no! By your Lord, they do not (truly) believe unless they make you the
judge regarding any dispute between them, and then find not the least vexation
within themselves over what you have decided, and surrender in full submis-
15. The facts expressed in the verses above are very important for both the health of a per-
son’s faith and for an Islamic society. First of all, it should be known that the Messenger of
God, upon him be peace and blessings, legislates just as the Qur’ān does. Moreover, his way
of living or practicing Islam is the principal standard for believers to follow. secondly, the
Qur’ān and the way of the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings – the sunnah – are
the unquestionable and absolutely authorized sources of Islam which must be obeyed. All
other ways that are not authorized by them will lead to heresy.
The Qur’ān frequently calls God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, The
Prophet or The Messenger . Naming him thus means that the Prophet Muhammad, upon
him be God’s blessings and peace, is the greatest of the Prophets and Messengers. when
we mention someone with their title without mentioning their name, and with the defi-
nite article attached, then we are saying that they are the most distinguished among those
sharing that title, and that they are the greatest representative of the mission or institution
whose members bear that title. so when we hear or say, The Prophet or The Messenger , we
refer to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings; it is he who represents
the Prophethood and the Messengership in the best way as the greatest of the Prophets
66. If we were to ordain for them, “Lay down your lives (in God’s cause, so that
you may be purified of your sins)” or “Leave your habitations (that you have con-
taminated with your sins, and emigrate to another land in God’s cause),” they
would not do that save a few of them. But if they had done what was urged upon
them (before things had come to this point) – if only they would do it from now
on – it would indeed have been (and would be) for their own good and (more
apt for them) to be more securely established (in the land).16
16. The words and style adopted by this verse lead us to understand that it is connected
with what verse 2: 54 and similar verses teach.
67. And then, we would surely have granted them from our Presence a tre-
68. And indeed guided them to a straight path (in belief, thought, feeling and
69. whoever obeys God and the Messenger (as they must be obeyed), then those
are (and in the Hereafter will be, in Paradise) in the company of those whom surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 222
God has favored (with the perfect guidance) – the Prophets, and the truthful
ones (loyal to God’s cause and truthful in whatever they do and say), and the
witnesses (those who see the hidden divine truths and testify thereto with their
lives), and the righteous ones (in all their deeds and sayings, and dedicated to
setting everything right). How excellent they are for companions! 17
17. This verse refers to four classes of people who act as guides for others throughout the
history of humankind. It has a direct connection with, and explains, verses 1: 6–7. what is
meant by “favor” is perfect guidance; each class of people mentioned here is favored with
70. such is the grace that is from God, and God suffices as one All-Knowing
(of how great that grace is, who deserves it, and the rank of those favored with
71. o you who believe! (while such great grace is there) be fully prepared, then
(as circumstance demands) either go forward in (small) consolidated groups (on
military expeditions), or go forward all together.
72. There are indeed among you such as him who lags behind. Then, if a disaster
befalls you, he says: “Indeed God bestowed His favor upon me that I was not
present with them.”
73. But if some bounty from God comes to you, he is sure to say – just as if there
had never been any tie of affection between you and him (and, therefore, as if
there had been an obstacle to his going forth with you), “oh, if only I had been
with them, I would have come by a great gain.”
74. so let those who trade the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in God’s
cause. whoever fights in God’s cause, whether he is killed or victorious, we will
grant him a tremendous reward.
75. why, then, should you not fight in the cause of God and of the oppressed,
helpless men, women, and children, who cry out: “o Lord! Bring us out of this
land whose people are oppressors, and appoint for us from Your Presence a pro-
tector, and appoint for us from Your Presence a helper!”
76. Those who (truly) believe fight in God’s cause, while those who disbelieve
fight in the cause of tāghūt (powers of evil who institute patterns of rule in
defiance of God). so (o believers), fight against the friends and allies of satan.
Assuredly, satan’s guile is ever-feeble.
77. do you not consider those who were told, “restrain your hands (from war
and similar endeavor), and do the Prayer in conformity with all its conditions, surah 4 223 An-Nisa (The women)
and pay the Prescribed Purifying Alms” (at which time they insistently asked
you when they would be allowed to fight)? But as the time has come and fight-
ing has been ordained for them, a party among them fear people as one should
fear God, or with even greater fear, and say: “o Lord! why have you ordained
fighting for us? If only You had granted us a little more respite!” say (to them, o
Messenger): “The enjoyment of the world is short-lived, whereas the Hereafter
is the best for him who keeps from disobedience to God, in reverence for Him
and piety, and you will not be wronged by so much as a tiny hair.”
78. wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even though you be in towers
built up strong and high. Yet, when some good happens to them, they say: “This
is from God.” And when an evil befalls them, they say: “This is because of you.”
say: “All is from God.” But how is it with these people that they do not grasp
the truth of anything said (or anything that has happened)!
79. (o human being!) whatever good happens to you, it is from God; and
whatever evil befalls you, it is from yourself. we have sent you (o Messenger) to
humankind as a Messenger, and God suffices for a witness. 18
18. The last two verses explain some important things concerning divine des-
tiny and human free will, such as the following:
Be it good or bad, whatever happens to a person has been determined by the divine •
eternal will, which considers human free will in all Its determinations.
It is God who established what cause (thought, belief, and action) brings about what •
result, and humanity cannot escape this framework. It is also in this sense that it is said
that whatever happens to humanity is from God.
As a requirement of the free will He has granted to humanity, God creates whatever •
His servants will. so, it is God who creates whatever happens to them, whether it
be good or bad, and it is in this meaning that whatever happens to a person is from
God never wills evil for His servants. He always wills good for them and directs them •
to it. so, whatever good thing happens to a person, it is because God has willed it for
them and directs their free will toward it. This means that since God has willed it, He
has directed a person’s free will toward this action, enabling them to do it, and creating
it; therefore, any good that happens to a person is solely from God.
A person becomes the source and doer of whatever evil befalls them by preferring •
evil and doing it despite God’s orienting their free will toward good. so, whatever evil
befalls a person is from themselves.
In addition to the fact that whatever good happens to a person is from God, God rewards
that good and admits His good servants into Paradise. so, God’s rewarding a person and
admitting him or her into Paradise is purely out of His bounty and grace. However, misfor-
tune will befall a person in the world, and they will earn Hellfire in the Hereafter because
of their obstinacy in unbelief or polytheism, or their transgressions, despite God’s infinite
compassion, forgiveness, and His exhorting people to good. so, the placing of a person in surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 224
Hell is merely justice that is embedded in the compassion of God.
80. He who obeys the Messenger (thereby) obeys God, and he who turns away
from him (and his way), (do not be grieved, o Messenger, for) we have not
sent you as a keeper and watcher over them (to prevent their misdeeds and be
accountable for them).
81. They say (when in your presence, to every command of yours), “By all means!”
But when they leave your presence, a party of them make secret plans against
what you say. God records whatever secret plans they make. so withdraw from
them, and put your trust in God. God suffices as the one to be relied on, to
whom affairs should be referred.
82. do they not contemplate the Qur’an (so that they may be convinced that
it is from God)? Had it been from any other than God, they would surely have
found in it much (incoherence or) inconsistency. 19
19. Consider the following facts:
Although the Qur’ān was revealed in parts over 20 years, to fulfill different needs and •
purposes, it has perfect harmony, as if it had all been revealed at the same time.
Although the Qur’ān was revealed over 20 years on different occasions, its parts are so •
mutually supportive that it is as if it had been revealed on only one occasion.
Although the Qur’ān came in answer to different, repeated questions, its parts are •
so united and harmonious with one another that it is as if it had been in answer to a
Although the Qur’ān came to judge diverse cases and events, it displays such a perfect •
order that it is as if it were a judgment delivered on a single case or event.
Although the Qur’ān was revealed by divine courtesy, in styles varied to suit innu- •
merable people who had or have different levels of understanding, moods, and tem-
perament, its parts exhibit so beautiful a similarity, correspondence, and fluency that it
is as if it were addressing only one level of understanding and temperament.
Although the Qur’ān speaks to an infinite variety of people, all distant from one an- •
other in time, space, and character, it has such a fluent way of explanation, such a
pure style, and a clear way of description, that it is as if it were addressing only one
homogenous group, each different group thinking that it is being addressed uniquely
Although the Qur’ān was revealed to enable the gradual guidance of different peoples •
with various purposes, it has such a perfect straightforwardness, sensitive balance, and
beautiful order, that it is as if it were pursuing only one purpose.
rather than being reasons for confusion, these factors add to the miraculousness of the
Qur’ān’s explanations and to its fluency of style and harmony. Anyone with a sound heart,
conscience, and good taste can see the graceful fluency, exquisite proportion, pleasant har-
mony, and matchless eloquence in its explanations. And anyone with a sound power of
sight and insight can see that the Qur’ān presents an eye with which to see the whole uni-surah 4 225 An-Nisa (The women)
verse, with all its inner and outer dimensions, like a single page on which all the meanings
contained can be read ( The words , “the 25 th word,” 433).
83. whenever any news comes to them, related to (public) security or alarm,
they go about spreading it (without ascertaining if the news is true or not, and
without thinking about whether it is beneficial or harmful to spread it). where-
as if they would but refer it to the Messenger and to those among them (in the
community) who are entrusted with authority, those from among them who
are competent to investigate it would bring to light what it is really about. (o
believers!) save for God’s grace and mercy upon you (in illuminating your way
and guiding you with revelation and His Messenger, and protecting you against
your enemies and wrong ways), all but a few (of you) would have been (deceived
by the hypocrites and) following satan.
84. Fight (therefore, o Messenger) in God’s cause – for (in the same way that
every individual is responsible for himself) you are (first of all) responsible for
none except yourself. (even left by yourself alone, fulfill your responsibility) –
and urge on the believers (to take their responsibility). It may be that God will
(thereby) restrain the force of those who disbelieve. Indeed God is strongest in
might, and strongest in repressing and punishing. 20
20. For the Qur’ān’s attitude toward war and the rules it established concerning war, see, 2:
190, 191, 194, 216, and notes 137 (Appendix 2), 138, 140, and 147 in sūrat al-Baqarah.
85. whoever intercedes, mediates or helps for a good cause will have a share in
its blessings, and whoever intercedes, mediates or helps for an evil cause shares
in its burden. God has full watch over all things.
86. when (whether traveling or at home, or in war or at peace) you are greeted
with a greeting (of peace and goodwill), answer with one better, or (at least) with
the same. surely God keeps account of all things.
87. God, there is no deity but He. He will gather you all together on the day of
resurrection, about (the coming of) which there is no doubt. who can be truer
in statement than God?
88. (o believers!) How is it with you that you are in two groups regarding the
hypocrites (from Makkah, and other tribes who claim to be Muslims yet take
part in the hostile machinations of their people against you), seeing that God
has thrown them back (to unbelief) on account of what they have earned (by
their sins)? do you seek to guide him whom God has led astray? whoever God
has led astray, for him you cannot find a (safe) way (to follow).surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 226
89. They yearn that you should disbelieve just as they disbelieved, so that you
might be all alike. do not, therefore, take from among them confidants and al-
lies until they emigrate (to Madīnah and join you) in God’s cause. But if they
turn away (from this call and continue their hostility against you), seize them
and kill them wherever you find them; and do not take to yourselves any of them
as confidant, nor as helper. 21
21. As recorded in the sources, the last two verses refer to those people who belonged to
the tribes of Ghatfan and Asad; they professed faith in Madīnah, but returned to unbelief
and cooperated with the Makkan polytheists against the Muslims when they returned to
their lands. However, since a verse being revealed with respect to a specific event does not
mean that it is restricted to that event, the Qur’ān is here presenting a typical hypocrisy.
Hypocrites, who were constantly worried whether time would progress in their favor or
disfavor, professed faith when they came to Madīnah, in order to secure the Muslims’ con-
fidence in them, but when they returned home, they displayed the unbelief in their hearts
and took part in all the hostile machinations against Islam and the Muslims. emigration
to Madīnah was of crucial importance and a sign of true belief in that period when the
Muslims suffered from the pressures and constraints imposed on them by the unbelievers.
so, by revealing the hypocrisy in the hearts and attitudes of such people, the Qur’ān warns
the believers against them.
90. except those who seek refuge in a people between whom and you there is a
treaty (of peace or alliance), or (those who) come to you with hearts shrinking
from fighting against you, as well as fighting against their own people. Had God
willed, He would certainly have given them power over you and they would have
fought against you. If they withdraw from you and do not fight against you, and
offer you peace, then God allows you no way (to war) against them.
91. You will find others who wish to be secure from you (by signing a treaty with
you) and to be secure from their people (by breaking their treaty with you and
joining them): every time they are called back to conspiracy and hostility against
you, they plunge into it headlong. Hence, if they do not withdraw from you, nor
offer you peace, nor restrain their hands (from hurting you), then seize them and
kill them wherever you come upon them. It is against such that we have given
you a clear sanction.
92. Yet (be circumspect), it is not for a believer to kill another believer unless it
be by mistake. He who has killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing
slave, and pay blood-money to his family (legal heirs), unless they forgo it as a
freewill offering. If he (the victim), while himself a believer, belonged to a people
hostile to you (between whom and you there is no treaty), then (the expiation
is to) set free a believing slave. If he (the victim) belonged to a (non-Muslim)
people between whom and you there is a treaty, then (the expiation is to) pay
blood-money to his heirs, and to set free a believing slave. But he who has no surah 4 227 An-Nisa (The women)
means (to make such expiation), must fast for two consecutive months – a pen-
ance from God (a way of repentance). 22 God is All-Knowing (of everything,
including what is in your bosoms), All-wise.
22. setting free a believing slave is a duty to God and the Muslim community, while paying
blood-money is a duty to the heirs of the victim. emancipating a believing slave means, in
one respect, granting the slave a (free) life as atonement for one’s killing a believer by mis-
take. This explicitly shows the great value Islam attaches to freedom. The Messenger, upon
him be peace and blessings, fixed the blood-money at 100 camels, or at the market value
of the same. However, the heirs of the victim are allowed to forgo the blood-money or to
reduce it. The killer should also turn to God in remorse and repentance, so that his sin may
be pardoned and his soul secured against the recurrence of similar mistakes.
93. whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense (in the Hereafter) is
Hell, therein to abide; and God has utterly condemned him, excluded him from
His mercy, and prepared for him a tremendous punishment.
94. o you who believe! when you go forth (to war) in God’s cause, investigate
with care until the situation becomes fully clear to you, and do not say to anyone
who offers you (the greeting of) peace (thereby indicating his being a Muslim),
“You are not a believer,” seeking the fleeting gains of the present, worldly life;
for with God are gains abundant. even thus (as he now is) were you before (ig-
norant of faith and what being a Muslim is, and you, too, entered Islam with a
similar word); but God has since then been gracious to you. so investigate with
care until the situation becomes fully clear to you. surely God is fully aware of
all that you do.
95. Not equal are those of the believers who (when not all believers are required
to mobilize for God’s cause) sit still without justifiable excuse (and without do-
ing any harm to God’s cause) and those who strive (and fight) in God’s cause
with their wealth and their persons. God has exalted in rank those who strive
with their wealth and their persons over those who sit still. To each, God has
promised the best reward (Paradise), and yet God has exalted those who strive
over those who sit still by a tremendous reward.
96. For them are ranks from Him (differing according to the degree of the
sincerity and striving of each), and forgiveness and mercy (to bring unforeseen
blessings). God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
97. As to those whose souls the angels (charged with taking the souls of people)
take in the state of wronging themselves (by continuing to live in unbelief, with-
out suffering to emigrate to a land where they would be able to attain faith):
They (the angels) ask them: “what situation were you in (so that you were not
with the believers)?” They say: “we were under such oppression in this land that surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 228
we could not find a way to faith.” They (the angels) say: “was God’s earth not
wide enough for you to emigrate in it?” such are those whose refuge is Hell: how
evil a destination to arrive at!
98. except those truly oppressed among the men, and the women, and the chil-
dren altogether without means and not guided to a way (to emigrate, and includ-
ing those who, in their lifetime, have not had a means to be guided to faith).
99. For those (while their circumstances are unchanged, it is expected that) God
will not hold them accountable and will excuse them. Assuredly God is one
who excuses much, All-Forgiving.
100. whoever emigrates in God’s cause will find on the earth enough room
for refuge and plentiful resources. He who leaves his home as an emigrant to
God and His Messenger, and whom death overtakes (while still on the way),
his reward is due and sure with God. Assuredly, God is All-Forgiving, All-
101. (o believers!) when you go forth on the earth, there is no blame on you
that you shorten the (Prescribed) Prayers, if you fear that those who disbelieve
might cause you harm (by attacking you). Assuredly, the unbelievers are a mani-
fest enemy to you.
102. when you (o Messenger) are among the believers (who are on an expedi-
tion and in fear that the unbelievers might harm them) and stand (to lead) the
Prayer for them, let a party of them stand in Prayer with you and retain their
arms with them (while the other party maintain their positions against the en-
emy). when the first party have done the prostrations (finished the rak‘ah), let
them go to the rear of your company (and there, hold positions against the en-
emy), and let the other party who have not prayed come forward and pray with
you, being fully prepared against danger and retaining their arms. Those who
disbelieve wish that you should be heedless of your weapons and your equip-
ment, so that they might swoop upon you in a single (surprise) attack. But there
will be no blame on you if you lay aside your arms (during the Prayer) if you
are troubled by rain (and the ground impedes your movement), or if you are
ill; however, be fully prepared against danger. surely God has prepared for the
unbelievers a shameful, humiliating punishment.
103. when you have finished the Prayer (especially considering you have short-
ened your Prayers when journeying and in the state of fear), remember and
mention God (with your tongues and hearts), standing and sitting and lying
down on your sides (and even while at war). Then, when you are once again
secure, do the Prayer in conformity with all its conditions (and do the Prayers surah 4 229 An-Nisa (The women)
you had to omit just at the time of actual fighting). 23 (Know that) the Prayer
(being the most important kind of worship) is prescribed for the believers at
fixed times. 24
23. with its miraculous eloquence, the Qur’ān exhorts the believers to emigrate and strive
in God’s cause, implying that the most valuable journeying in God’s sight is that which is
made for God’s cause, such as emigration and going forth to serve God’s cause. By men-
tioning the Prescribed Prayer between the verses in which it stresses the significance of
emigration ( hijrah ) and striving in God’s cause ( jihād ), including fighting the enemy, it
both legislates how Prayer should be performed during the journey and in a state of war,
and draws attention to the fundamental relation between success in striving for God’s cause
and the Prayer, including the recitations of God’s glorification, praise, and exaltation after
the Prayer, which are the seeds of faith.
The Prescribed Prayers are shortened during a journey or when in a state of fear or insecu-
rity, including times of war or disaster, such as fire and flood. Those Prayers performed in
a state of fear are called Prayers of Fear, while those prayed during a journey are known as
the Prayers of Journey. For the Prayers that consist of four rak’ah , the Prayer of Journey is
performed with two rak’ah s, while the others – those of morning and evening – remain the
same. Although there are differences of opinion among jurists on how many rak’ah s for
the Prayers that normally consist of four rak’ah s should be prayed for a Prayer of Fear, by
mentioning them together with those of the journey, the Qur’ān seems to imply that both
are the same. However, the forms of their praying are different. The Prayers of Journey that
consist of two rak’ah s are prayed like the Morning Prayer, while those of Fear are prayed as
described in verse 102: a group of soldiers prays one rak’ah while the other group takes its
position against the enemy, and then this other group also prays one rak’ah , each behind
the Prayer-leader. subsequently, each of the two groups comes, in turn, to complete the
Prayer by performing one more rak’ah individually. This is the view of the H anafī school.
24. Although the five times of the Prescribed Prayer were fixed by the Messenger upon
the instruction of Archangel Gabriel, they can be deduced from the relevant verses of the
Qur’ān: establish the Prayer from the declining of the sun to the darkness of the night, and
(be ever observant of) the recitation of the Qur’ān at dawn (17: 78); establish the Prayer at
the beginning and the end of the day, and in the watches of the night near to the day (11:
114); Glorify your Lord with praise before sunrise and before sunset, and glorify Him dur-
ing some hours of the night – as well as glorifying (Him) at the ends of the day (20: 130);
so glorify God when you enter the evening and when you enter the morning – and (pro-
claim that) all praise and gratitude in the heavens and on the earth are for Him – and in the
afternoon and when you enter the noon time (30: 17–18). It is possible also to see the time
of the late night Prayers ( Tahajjud and witr ) in both the verses mentioned and in 73: 2–4;
17: 79; 51: 17; 76: 26. Both these verses, and that which has just been interpreted above
(103), emphasize, in particular, the importance of the recitations of God’s glory, praise, and
exaltation after each Prayer. This last verse also stresses the importance of observing the
prescribed times for the Prayer and performing it on time.
104. do not be faint of purpose in pursuing these people (who fight with you,
and keep them under pressure as long as the state of war continues between surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 230
you and them). If you are suffering (having to endure hardships), they, too, are
suffering just as you are, but you hope (to receive) from God what they cannot
hope for. God is indeed All-Knowing (of the states and conditions of all things),
105. surely we have sent down to you the Book with the truth (embodying it,
with nothing false in it), so that you should judge between people according to
how God has shown you. so do not be a pleader on behalf of those who betray
106. Pray God for forgiveness. Assuredly God is All-Forgiving, All-Compas-
107. And do not plead on behalf of those who betray themselves (by lying to
conceal the truth of the matter brought before you). surely God does not love
whoever betrays trust and persists in sin.
108. They strive to hide (their evil deeds) from people, but they do not strive
to hide from God, whereas He is always with them whenever they hold night
counsels (and spread false rumors and slanders) displeasing to Him. God indeed
encompasses (with His Knowledge, seeing, Hearing and Power) all that they
109. Ah! You (o believers) might well plead on their behalf in the life of this
world, but who will plead with God on their behalf on the day of resurrection,
or who will then be their defender and guardian?
110. Yet, whoever does an evil or wrongs himself (by committing sins to harm
himself spiritually), and then implores God for forgiveness, will find God All-
111. whereas whoever earns a sin (failing to seek forgiveness for it), earns it only
against himself (to his own loss only). And God is All-Knowing, All-wise.
112. And he who earns a wrong or sin, and then throws the blame on an inno-
cent person, has thereby laid upon himself (the additional burden of) a calumny
and a flagrant sin.
113. But for God’s grace and favor upon you and His mercy, one party of them
determined to mislead you, yet they mislead none but themselves, and cannot
harm you in any way. (How could they do so, seeing that) God has sent down on
you the Book and the wisdom, and taught you what you did not know. God’s
grace and favor upon you is tremendous indeed. 25
25. “There are good lessons to be learned from the incidents in connection with which the surah 4 231 An-Nisa (The women)
four verses above were revealed. A Muslim named Ta‘imah ibn ubayraq, from the tribe of
Z afar, was suspected of having stolen a suit of armor. when he feared detection, he planted
the stolen property in the house of a Jew, where it was found. The Jews denied the charge
and accused Ta‘imah, but some among the Muslims sympathized with Ta‘imah because of
his nominal profession of Islam. when the case came for trial, Islamic justice prevailed and
the case turned against Ta‘imah. realizing that his punishment was imminent, he fled and
left Islam.” (Özek et al., 95)
114. No good is there in most of their secret counsels except for him who ex-
horts to a deed of charity, or kind equitable dealings and honest affairs, or setting
things right between people. whoever does that seeking God’s good pleasure,
we will grant to him a tremendous reward.
115. while whoever cuts himself off from the Messenger after the guidance (to
what is truest and best in thought, belief, and conduct) has become clear to him,
and follows a way other than that of the believers (for whom it is impossible to
agree unanimously on a way that leads to error), we leave him (to himself) on
the way he has turned to, and land him in Hell to roast there: how evil a destina-
tion to arrive at!
116. Indeed God does not forgive that partners be associated with Him; less than
that He forgives to whomever He wills (whomever He has guided to repentance
and righteousness as a result of his choosing repentance and righteousness by
his free will). whoever associates partners with God has indeed strayed far away
(from the straight Path).
117. In His stead, they invoke female deities – (in so doing) they, in fact, invoke
none but a haughty, rebellious satan, 26
26. Many among those who reject belief in one God often adopt male and female deities.
while they often choose a masculine one as their supreme deity, their other deities are
feminine. This is because they adore their own selves and consider, first of all, the satisfac-
tion of their interests and animal desires. since men’s primary appetite is for women and
since they tend to exploit these deities to satisfy their needs, they choose many of their
deities from among women. They desire to see a physically handsome woman wherever
they look and tend to eternalize them by making them into statutes and pictures. This is
the most abominable way of degrading the standing of women and is nothing more than
viewing women as only a physical object. For them women are no more than simple objects
involved in the gratification of their desires and interests. women are no longer given any
respect or affection when they need them most.
Humankind also suffer from many different fears. They feel awe before the things they
fear. This is why they generally conceive of their supreme deity, before whom they feel awe,
as being masculine, and fawn on him. even if such people may be Pharaoh-like tyrants, it
makes no difference; such people degrade themselves to kiss the feet of any power above
themselves and in whose hands they see the satisfaction of their needs and desires.surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 232
The verse clarifies that those who invent deities other than God in fact call upon satan as
deity, as it is satan who drives them to do so.
118. one who is accursed by God (excluded from His mercy). once he said: “of
Your servants I will surely take a share to be assigned to me (by their following
119. “I will surely lead them astray and surely engross them in vain desires (su-
perstitious fancies and false conceptions); and I will surely command them, and
they will surely slit the ears of cattle (to mark them out as meant for their idols
and as forbidden to themselves to eat, thus making a lawful thing unlawful); and
also, I will surely command them, and they will surely alter God’s creation.” 27
whoever takes satan for a confidant and guardian instead of God has indeed
suffered a manifest loss.
27. The alteration of God’s creation means changing an original or natural form by ar-
tificial means and using a thing outside of the purpose for which it was created by God.
All acts done in violation of a thing’s true or intrinsic nature are included in this. For
example: the sterilization of men or women, turning males into eunuchs, surgically alter-
ing one’s physical appearance, turning women from the functions that were entrusted to
them, because of their nature, and causing them to carry out the functions for which men
are created, sodomy and other kinds of illicit relations, making lawful what God has made
unlawful and vice versa, etc.
120. (In reality, however, satan has no authority over people against God.) He
makes promises to them and fills them with vain desires (superstitious fancies
and false conceptions), and what he promises them is nothing but delusion.
121. such (as those deluded by satan): their shelter is Hell, and they will find
no way to escape from it.
122. As for those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, we will admit
them into the Gardens through which rivers flow, therein abiding forever. This
is God’s promise in truth. who can be truer than God in speech?
123. It is not according to your fancies, nor according to the fancies of the People
of the Book. (No one has a privilege in God’s sight by virtue of being nominally
a Muslim, or Jew, or Christian. rather, the truth is this:) whoever does an evil
will be recompensed for it, and he will not find for himself, apart from God,
a guardian or a helper (to guard or help him against the consequence of that
124. And whoever does deeds of righteousness, whether male or female, and is a
(true) believer – such will enter Paradise, and they will not be wronged by even
so little as (would fill) the groove of a date-stone.surah 4 233 An-Nisa (The women)
125. who is better in religion than he who has submitted his whole being to
God (seeking only His good pleasure, as one devoted to) doing good, aware that
God is seeing him, and who follows the way (millah) of Abraham being of pure
faith (free of unbelief, of associating partners with God and of hypocrisy). God
accepted Abraham as a friend (one close and trusted).
126. To God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth,
and God encompasses everything (with His Knowledge and Power).
127. (o Messenger!) They ask you to pronounce laws concerning women. An-
swer them: “God pronounces to you the laws concerning them, and it is recited
to you in this Book concerning female orphans, to whom you do not give what
has been ordained for them (as bridal-due or for their maintenance), and yet
desire to marry them (out of greed to get their charms or wealth for yourself, or
by refusing to let them marry to continue benefiting from their wealth); and also
concerning the weak, helpless children (whose rights should be protected), and
that you must be assiduous in observing the rights of orphans.” whatever good
you do – surely God has full knowledge of it.
128. If a woman fears from her husband ill-treatment or (such breach of marital
obligations as) his turning away in aversion, then there will be no blame on them
to set things right peacefully between them; peaceful settlement is better. (Bear
in mind that) human souls are prone to selfish avarice, so (o husbands) if you
do good in consciousness of God and act in reverence for Him and piety (in
observing the rights of women), then surely God is fully aware of what you do.
129. You will never be able to deal between your wives with absolute equality
(in respect of love and emotional attachment), however much you may desire
to do so. But do not turn away altogether (from any one of them), so as to leave
her in a dangling state (uncertain if she has or does not have a husband). If you
act righteously (between them) and act in piety (fearful of doing any deliberate
wrong to any of them), then surely God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
130. If (despite every effort to reconcile them, it is no longer possible to sustain
marriage, and) the couple do separate, (let neither fear to become poor and
helpless, for) God suffices all by His abundance. God is All-embracing (in His
131. And to God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the
earth. And assuredly, we commanded those who were given the Book before
you, and (we command) you (o Muslims) to act in piety and reverence for
God, fearful of disobedience to Him (in all matters, including especially observ-
ing your mutual rights). Yet if you disbelieve (and despite this admonishment, surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 234
act with ingratitude to Him, then bear in mind that) to God belongs what-
ever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth: (if you believe in Him and
thank Him, this adds nothing to Him, or if you disbelieve in Him and become
ungrateful to Him, this does not diminish anything from Him. For) God is
All-wealthy and self-sufficient (absolutely independent of all His creatures),
All-Praiseworthy (as your Lord, who provides for you and all other beings and
meets all your needs).
132. (Again, know that) to God belongs whatever is in the heavens and what-
ever is on the earth; and God suffices as one on whom to rely and to whom
all affairs should be referred.
133. If He wills, He can remove you, o humankind, and bring in others in your
place. God is entirely able to do that.
134. If one desires the reward of this world, (let him know that) with God is
the reward of this world and the Hereafter. God is indeed All-Hearing, All-
135. o you who believe! Be upholders and standard-bearers of justice, bearing
witness to the truth for God’s sake, even though it be against your own selves,
or parents or kindred. whether the person concerned be rich or poor, (bear in
mind that) God is nearer to them (than you are and more concerned with their
well-being). so do not (in expectation of some gain from the rich or out of mis-
placed compassion for the poor) follow your own desires lest you swerve from
justice. If you distort (the truth) or decline (to bear truthful witness), then know
that God is fully aware of all that you do.
136. o you who believe! Believe in God and His Messenger (Muhammad)
and the Book He has been sending down on His Messenger in parts, and the
(divine) Books He sent down before. whoever disbelieves in God, and His
angels, and His Books, and His Messengers, and the Last day, has indeed gone
far astray. 28
28. By using the phrase “o you who believe,” which includes a verb, instead of “o believ-
ers,” the Qur’ān is addressing all who have verbally confessed belief and entered the sphere
of faith and Islam. The hypocrites are included in this address. By commanding to believe
after this address, it stresses that true faith does not consist in a verbal confession alone.
Truly, faith does not consist in a simple acceptance or confession. Just as there are many
stages or degrees in the growth of a tree (for example, the date tree) from its seed until its
fully-grown, fruit-bearing state, and just as there are countless degrees and ranks in the
manifestations of the sun from its manifestations of light and heat in all things on the earth
up to its reflection on the moon and then back to itself, so, too, does faith have almost un-
countable degrees and ranks, from a simple acknowledgment of reason and confirmation of surah 4 235 An-Nisa (The women)
the heart, up to degrees of penetration in all the parts and faculties of the body that control
and direct the entire life of a person – from the faith of a common person to that of the
greatest of the Messengers. The first degree or rank of faith is simply believing in the essen-
tials mentioned in this verse, and then comes the deepening of, and being steadfast in, faith.
This is why the Qur’ān usually commands or prohibits some things after the address, “o
you who believe!”; i.e., confession of belief requires obeying these commandments, which,
in turn, causes them to be stronger and deeper.
The essentials of faith require and corroborate one another. The verse does not mention
divine destiny as an article or essential of faith. This is because it is included in recogniz-
ing and believing in God with all His Qualities essential to Him as God, and His Attri-
butes, Names and acts.
137. Those who have believed and then disbelieved, then believed, and again
disbelieved, and thereafter grown more intense in unbelief, God will never for-
give them, nor will He guide them to a way (leading to the ultimate triumph
138. To the hypocrites (who are as just described), give glad tidings that for
them is a painful punishment.
139. (The hypocrites are) those who take unbelievers for confidants, guardians
and allies in preference to the believers: do they seek might and glory in being
together with them? (If so, let them know that) might and glory belong alto-
gether to God.
140. He has already revealed to you in the Book that when you hear the revela-
tions of God being rejected and mocked, no longer sit with them (show your
disagreement) until they engage in some other talk, or else you will surely be-
come like them. Assuredly, God will gather the hypocrites and the unbelievers
all together in Hell.
141. (The hypocrites are) those who wait to see what befalls you: thus, if a vic-
tory comes to you from God, they say, “were we not with you?” But if the unbe-
lievers meet with a success, they say (to them:) “did we not gain leverage over
you (by not joining the believers, and weakening them from within) and did we
not defend you from the believers?” God will judge between you (and them) on
the day of resurrection, and never will God allow the unbelievers to find a way
(to triumph) over the (true) believers. 29
29. This last sentence, “and never will God allow the unbelievers to find a way (to triumph)
over the (true) believers,” has several meanings and implications:
In the Hereafter, the believers will be on the winning side, while the unbelievers will •
be complete losers.surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 236
Islam has two wings on which the believers fly: one is God’s laws and decrees that we •
call “religion,” the other is His laws of life and the creation and operation of the uni-
verse, which are the subject-matter of (physical) sciences. As long as the believers obey
these two kinds of God’s laws, victory will always be on their side. whereas, if they fall
behind the unbelievers in obeying the second kind of God’s laws and show neglect in
obeying the former, the unbelievers can gain the upper hand over them.
The unbelievers may at times gain the upper hand, but the final victory always belongs •
to the believers.
Although the believers may sometimes be on the losing side, they are always, with •
respect to the truth of their beliefs, ideas, and spiritually, on the winning side. It is
enough to see and prove this fact to look at the phenomenon that during the past few
hundred years, when the unbelievers enjoyed supremacy in political, economic, and
military fields throughout the world, few have left Islam to enter another religion,
while many from other religions have continued to embrace it.
This statement indicates a very important goal for the believers: They must never •
allow the unbelievers to gain advantage or find a way to triumph over them. If they
fail, they will be accountable before God and have to bear the consequences of such a
failure, both in this world and in the world to come.
142. The hypocrites would trick God, whereas it is God who “tricks” them (by
causing them to fall into their own traps). when they rise to do the Prayer, they
rise lazily, and to be seen by people (to show them that they are Muslims); and
they do not remember God (within or outside the Prayer), save a little,
143. vacillating between (the believers) and (the unbelievers), neither with these,
nor with those. whoever God leads astray, for him you can never find a sound
way (to follow).
144. o you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for guardians and con-
fidants in preference to the believers; or do you want to offer God a manifest
proof against yourselves (of being hypocrites, and so incur His punishment)?
145. surely the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth of the Fire; and you will
never find for them any helper (against the Fire).
146. except those who repent and mend their ways and hold fast to God and
practice their religion purely and sincerely for God’s sake: those (who repent)
are counted with the believers and, in time, God will grant to the believers a
147. what should God punish you if you are grateful (to Him) and believe (in
Him)? 30 God is ever-responsive to gratitude, All-Knowing.
30. while being ungrateful is a door to unbelief and even may be identical with it (in Ara-
bic, both are derived from the same root), being thankful or grateful (shukr) is a door to
faith and identical with it. This is because:surah 4 237 An-Nisa (The women)
The attitude of gratefulness to God consists of acknowledging that whatever good a person
has and whatever achievement they have realized is purely from God. It also consists in
acknowledging God’s benediction and blessings in their heart, confessing it in their speech
and manifesting it in their deeds. Their hearts should be overflowing with love for, and
loyalty to, the Benefactor, and they should not attribute real creative effect to apparent
causes in His benedictions reaching them. They should also use whatever God has granted
to them in His way and according to His directives.
148. God does not like any harsh speech to be uttered save by one who has been
wronged (and, therefore, has the right to express that in appropriate language).
God is indeed All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
149. whether you do some good openly or do it in secret, or pardon an evil
(done to you, even though you have the right to legal retaliation, know that)
God is All-Pardoning, ever-Able (to punish or forgive).
150. Those (deserving punishment) are they who disbelieve in God (not rec-
ognizing Him at all or not as He should be), and His Messengers (denying
Messengership altogether or denying some of the Messengers), and who seek to
make distinction between God and His Messengers (by claiming belief in God
but denying Messengership or denying some of the Messengers), and say, “we
believe in some and deny others,” seeking to take a way in between.
151. such are in truth unbelievers, and we have prepared for the unbelievers a
shameful, humiliating punishment.
152. But as for those who believe in God and His Messengers and make no
distinction between them (between God and His Messengers or between the
Messengers themselves), to them God will grant their rewards (in full). God is
indeed All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
153. The People of the Book ask you to cause a Book to be sent down on them
from heaven. (o Messenger, let this not shock you, for) they asked an even
greater thing than this of Moses, when they said, “show God to us openly,”
and the thunderbolt seized them for their wrong-doing. Then they adopted the
(golden) calf as deity – and this after the (miracles and other) clear proofs of
the truth had come to them. Yet we (accepted their atonement and) pardoned
them that; and we granted Moses (the Book and the Criterion, and thereby) a
clear proof and authority.
154. (Moreover) we raised the Mount to tower above them to secure their
promise (to hold firmly to the Book), and (on another occasion when we guided
them to a town) we commanded them, “Go into it through its gate prostrating
(humbly in utmost submission to God)”; and again, we once commanded them, surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 238
“do not exceed the bounds with respect to the sabbath,” and we took from
them a most solemn pledge.
155. And so, because of their breaking their pledge, and their intentional ignor-
ing of God’s signs (in the universe, and in themselves), and their rejection of His
revelations, and their killing certain Prophets against all right, and their saying,
“our hearts have become callous (no longer having any ability to believe).” No!
rather, God has set a seal on their hearts because of their persistent unbelief, so
that, with the exception of few, scarcely do they believe. 31
31. For the events mentioned here, see: 2: 51–55, 58, 61, 63–66, 79, 83, 84–88, 92–93.
156. And because of their (persistence in) unbelief, and speaking against Mary
a tremendous calumny;
157. And their saying “we killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger
of God “ – whereas they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the mat-
ter was made dubious to them. Those who differ about this matter and about
Jesus are indeed confused; they have no definite knowledge thereof, following
mere conjecture; and of a certainty, they killed him not.
158. But God raised him to Himself. God is All-Glorious with irresistible
159. Yet there is none of the People of the Book but will, before the moment of
his death, (grasp the truth about Jesus and) believe in him (though that belief
will be of no benefit to them then); and on the day of resurrection, he will be
a witness against them. 32
32. There are conflicting views on Jesus’ departure from the world and the Prophetic Tradi-
tions about his return to the world before the day of resurrection. The following points
may be closer to the truth in these two matters: Neither the Jews nor the romans were able
to kill or crucify Jesus, upon him be peace. According to some interpreters of the Qur’ān,
one of his disciples, Judas, was likened to Jesus, upon him be peace, and substituted for him
by God because of his betrayal. However, the late Muhammad Asad, a renowned Muslim
convert from Judaism, regards the entire crucifixion as only a legend. According to him, “in
the course of time, long after the time of Jesus, a legend somehow grew up (possibly under
the then-powerful influence of Mithraistic beliefs) to the effect that Jesus had died on the
cross in order to atone for the ‘original sin’ with which mankind is allegedly burdened; and
this legend became so firmly established among the latter-day followers of Jesus that even
his enemies, the Jews, began to believe it – albeit in a derogatory sense (for crucifixion was,
in those times, a heinous form of the death-penalty, reserved for the lowest of criminals)
( The Message of the Qur’ān , 134). whether Asad is right or not, many of the doctrines
found in modern Christianity, such as original sin, blood atonement and the Trinity, were
essential to Mithraism, which was very widespread in Asia Minor in the years when Chris-
tianity began to spread there, and entered rome long before Christianity did. what is a surah 4 239 An-Nisa (The women)
fact in this matter is that Jesus, upon him be peace, was neither killed nor crucified, but the
matter became ambiguous to those who put forth such assertions.If we deal with verse 158
along with 3: 55, and as pointed out in footnote 10 regarding verse 3: 55, and mentioned
by Bediüzzaman said Nursi ( The Letters , “the 1 st Letter”), we can say on this matter of
God’s raising Jesus to himself: Just as he came into the world in an unusual manner, so, too,
did Jesus depart from the world in an unusual manner. He did not die as other people do,
but God took him back with his spirit and body, which took on the form or changed into
an “astral” body or energetic envelope. This can be analogous with the Ascension of the
Prophet Muhammad, upon him be God’s blessings and peace. However, while the Prophet
Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, returned to the world again to complete
his mission, Jesus, upon him be peace, remained where he was taken.Among the greatest
Messengers – Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, upon them be God’s peace
– Noah and Moses, and Abraham and Jesus resemble one another in nature and character.
while God’s Attributes of Majesty were more manifest than those of Grace in the former
two due to their mission, with Abraham and Jesus, upon them be peace, it is the other
way around. Noah and Moses, upon them be peace, were distinguished with their great
sternness toward unbelievers, while Abraham and Jesus, upon them be peace, were better
known for their affection and compassion. The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace
and blessings, due to the universality of his mission, combined both in a balanced degree,
but according to time and conditions, sometimes majesty and sternness, and sometimes
affection and compassion had priority. The circumstances before the end of time will make
it imperative that Muslims be equipped more with affection, compassion, love, and inviting
dialogue. Christianity will be purified of the doctrines that have filtered into it over time,
and there will be a coming together between the Muslims and Christians against the on-
slaught of the trends of materialism and similar ideologies. This will enable God’s religion
to triumph over atheism and materialism throughout the world. This is what several mod-
ern Muslim scholars understand from the Prophetic Traditions saying that Jesus, upon him
be peace, will return to the world before the end of time and practice Islamic Law.
160. so, because of the wrong committed by the Jews, we made unlawful for
them many pure, wholesome things which had (hitherto) been lawful for them,
and because of their barring many from God’s way;
161. And because of their taking interest although it had been forbidden to
them, and consuming the wealth of people in wrongful ways (such as usury,
theft, usurpation, bribery, gambling, and selling God’s revelations); and we
have prepared for the unbelievers among them (those who persisted in unbelief
despite all the many warnings) a painful punishment.
162. But those of them firmly rooted in Knowledge, and the (true) believers,
believe in what has been sent down to you (o Messenger), and what was sent
down before you; and especially those who do the Prayer in conformity with all
its conditions, and those who pay the Prescribed Purifying Alms, and the believ-
ers in God and the Last day (as both must be believed in): to them will we will
grant a tremendous reward.surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 240
163. we have revealed to you (o Messenger), as we revealed to Noah and the
Prophets after him; and we revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the
Prophets who were raised in the tribes, and Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and solo-
mon; and we gave david the Psalms. 33
33. Abu’l-A‘lā al-Mawdūdī has the following note on this verse:
The ‘Psalms’ embodied in the Bible are not the Psalms of david. The Biblical version
contains many ‘psalms’ by others and they are ascribed to their actual authors. The ‘psalms’
which the Bible does ascribe to david do indeed contain the characteristic luster of truth.
The book called ‘Proverbs,’ attributed to solomon, contains many assertions, and the last
two chapters, in particular, are undoubtedly spurious. A great many of these proverbs, how-
ever, do have a ring of truth and authenticity. Another book of the Bible is ascribed to Job.
even though it contains many gems of wisdom, it is difficult to believe that the book at-
tributed to Job could in fact be his. For the portrayal of Job’s character in that book is quite
contrary to the wonderful patience for which he is applauded in the Qur’ān and for which
he is praised in the beginning of the Book of Job itself. The Book of Job, quite contrary to
the Qur’ānic portrayal of him, presents him as one who was so full of grievance and annoy-
ance with God throughout the entire period of his tribulation that his companions had to
try hard to convince him that God was not unjust.
In addition to these, the Bible contains seventeen other books of the Israelite Prophets. The
greater part of these seem to be authentic. In Jeremiah, Isaiah, ezekiel, Amos and certain
other books, in particular, one often encounters whole sections which stir and move one’s
soul. These sections, without doubt, have the luster of divine revelation. while going
through them, one is struck by the vehemence of moral admonition, the powerful opposi-
tion to polytheism, the forceful exposition of monotheism, and the strong denunciation
of the moral corruption of the Israelites which characterize them. one inevitably senses
that these books, the orations of Jesus embodied in the Gospels, and the glorious Qur’ān
are like springs which have arisen from one and the same divine source (al-Mawdūdī, 2:
113–114, note 205).
164. And Messengers we have already told you of (with respect to their mis-
sion) before, and Messengers we have not told you of; and God spoke to Moses
in a particular way. 34
34. As mentioned in 42: 51, revelation occurs in three ways:
1. God puts the meaning in the Prophet’s heart in a way that the Prophet knows with •
certainty that it is from God.
2. God speaks to the Prophet without mediation, but without being seen and from •
behind a veil, as God spoke to Moses from a tree.
3. God sends an angel who communicates God’s message to the Prophet. He always •
sent Gabriel to communicate His messages contained in His Books. (a s – s ali h ,
As mentioned in 2: 253, God exalted and distinguished some Prophets in some respects
due to the mission of each, meaning that, with the exception of the Prophet Muhammad, surah 4 241 An-Nisa (The women)
upon him be peace and blessings, who represented all aspects of Prophethood in the most
perfect manner because of the universality of his mission, every Prophet is superior to
others in one or more respects. The Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, was distinguished
by being addressed by God in a particular way. But although being addressed by God in a
particular way was a special favor, it is not the most superior way of revelation. God sent
His messages that form His Book through the angel Gabriel; therefore, the most superior
way of revelation is via Gabriel. It is for this reason that the Torah is not formed of God’s
direct revelations to Moses, upon him be peace.
165. Messengers (have been sent as) bearers of glad tidings and warners, so that
people might have no argument against God after the Messengers (had come to
them). And God is All-Glorious with irresistible might, All-wise.
166. (whether people believe or not) God bears witness to (the truth of) what
He has sent down to you. And He has sent it down from, based on and together
with, His Knowledge. And the angels also bear witness (to it), though God suf-
fices for a witness.
167. surely those who (in defiance of that testimony) disbelieve, and bar (peo-
ple) from God’s way, have indeed gone far astray.
168. surely those who disbelieve and do wrong (to people by barring them from
God’s way, and to God and His Messengers and angels, and to all believers and
all creatures bearing witness to the truth, and to their own conscience, by accus-
ing them of lying and deception) – God will indeed not forgive them, nor will
He guide them to a road,
169. except the road of Hell, to abide therein for ever; and that is easy for
170. o humankind! The Messenger has come to you with the truth from your
Lord: believe, then, for your own good. And if you disbelieve, then (know that
your unbelief will in no way harm Him, for) to God belongs whatever is in the
heavens and on the earth. And God is All-Knowing, All-wise.
171. o People of the Book! do not go beyond the bounds in your religion, and
do not say anything of God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was
but a Messenger of God, and a word of His (Power) which He conveyed to
Mary, and a spirit from Him. 35 so believe in God (as the one, unique God),
and His Messengers (including Jesus, as Messenger); and do not say: (God is
one of) a trinity. Give up (this assertion) – (it is) for your own good (to do so).
God is but one God; All-Glorified He is in that He is absolutely above hav-
ing a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the
earth. And God suffices as the one to be relied on, to whom affairs should be surah 4 An-Nisa (The women) 242
35. God has two kinds of words, one issuing from His Attribute of speech, the other from
His Power. His words that issue from His Attribute of speech are His Books and scrolls
that He sent to some of His Messengers. His words that issue from His Attribute of Power
are all of His works – His creatures and all events in the universe. why then does God
mention Jesus, upon him be peace, especially as one of His words (of His Power) is that
God, due to His Grandeur and Honor, acts in this world from behind cause and effect. He
does so because this world is the world of wisdom, and some people, unable to discern the
good behind every act of God, would otherwise ascribe to God the things displeasing to
them, which could lead them to perish. God acts from behind the veil of cause and effect so
that people can ascribe displeasing things, such as illnesses, death, and misfortunes, to their
“natural” causes and not complain of God. But since the other world is the world of Power,
God will act there without any veils; everything will happen there instantly. The creation
of Jesus, upon him be peace, was different from that of other people, and God created him
without a father. so, in Jesus, upon him be peace, His law of Power was manifested, rather
than His law of wisdom. Adam, upon him be peace, was also created without parents, but
God did not call him His word. Adam, upon him be peace, was the first to be created as
a human being; but Jesus’ creation was completely unusual after so many centuries during
which all people came to the world with both a father and mother.
The idea of Jesus, upon him be peace, being a spirit from God should also be considered
from this viewpoint. since he was a word of God’s Power, in the meaning of being created
not based on cause and effect, as all other people are, but rather by being breathed into
virgin Mary by or through an angel who is purely a spiritual being, the spiritual dimension
weighs more in his creation. why this was so for Jesus is that he came to spiritually revive
the Children of Israel, who were drowning in materialism and who were selling God’s
revelations for trifling prices. so Jesus’ mission gave priority to the spiritual dimension of
the divine religion. unfortunately, most of his followers overstepped the bounds of truth
in their religion in later years, and in their hands “the spirit from God” became “the spirit
of God,” and “the spirit of holiness” with which he was confirmed (2: 87) was interpreted to
mean God’s own spirit which became incarnate in Jesus. Thus, along with God and Jesus,
upon him be peace, there developed the third person of God – the Holy Ghost. The Qur’ān
categorically refutes all such assertions.
172. The Messiah never disdains to be a servant to God, nor do the angels near-
stationed to Him. whoever disdains to worship God as a servant and feels his
pride (puffed up by arrogance, should know that) God will gather them all to
Himself (and call them to account).
173. To those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, He will grant their
rewards in full, and will give them yet more out of His bounty; but as to those
who are disdainful and arrogant, He will punish them with a painful punish-
ment, and they will not find for them, against God, a guardian and protector,
nor a helper.
174. o humankind! Now a Proof has come to you from your Lord, and we have 243 An-Nisa (The women)
sent down to you a clear Light (to illuminate your way and show you everything
175. so those who believe in God (as taught by this proof and light), and hold
fast to Him – He will admit them into a (great) mercy from His Presence, and
a bounty, and guide them direct to Him on a straight path.
176. They ask you (o Messenger) to pronounce a ruling. say (to them): God
pronounces to you the ruling concerning inheritance from those who have left
behind no lineal heirs (kalālah): should a man die childless but have a sister, for
her is the half of what he has left behind; and the brother will inherit from her if
the sister dies childless. If the heirs are two sisters, for them is two-thirds of what
he has left behind. And if the heirs are brothers and sisters, then for the male is
the equivalent of the portion of two females. God makes (His commandments)
clear to you lest you go astray. God has full knowledge of everything.