An-Nisa · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

What Does the First Section of Surah an-Nisa Say – A Review

A review at this point shows that the entire first section of Surah an-Nisa contains commands relating to orphans. They bid protection of the property of the orphans, avoidance of encroaching on their property as one’s own and the giving of their due share from the property they have received in inheritance; and they forbid the hasty consumption of the property of the orphans for fear of their growing mature and assuming its control, or the taking of orphaned girls in marriage and lowering their dower, or to usurp their property.

In the end the text says that eating up the property of the orphan unjustly is filling of bellies with fire because after their death such people will be recompensed by fire filled in their bellies. Mark the use of the word, ‘ya-kuluna” and the warning given to those who ‘eat up’ the property of the orphan. It means that using the property of the orphan in whatever manner it may be – eating, drinking, consuming, utilizing – is totally unlawful and a sure cause of Divine wrath. The punishment of eating up what belongs to somebody else unjustly and without any right covers all sorts of uses.

When someone dies, the right of every inheritor attaches itself to everything he owns, to each and every part, to everything big or small. It is tragic that the minor children of the deceased become orphans. Mostly, such children face a certain degree of injustice and excess in every home and everyone who assumes control of the property after the death of the father of these children – whether an uncle or elder brother or mother or some guardian or trustee – falls into doing things forbidden in this section.

To begin with, they just go on postponing the distribution of the property for years together, spending a little here and there to feed and clothe these children. After that, they open up and become all too liberal in spending this jointly-held property on religiously unacceptable practices, customs and wasteful heads of expenditure. They would even spend it on their own person and go on to the limit of manipulating legal documents entering the names of their own children in place of the orphans. These are things hardly a home remains unaffected from.

The donations made for orphans in religious schools and orphanages must be spent on them. Not spending these on the orphans is a form of ‘eating up’ the property of the orphan.

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