An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 71

The Necessity of Taking Necessary Precautions Against the Enemy

Before this, there was the command to obey Allah and His Messenger. Now, in the present ayaat, Jihad has been prescribed for the obedient and faithful so that they can vitalize their faith and raise the word of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Allah commands His faithful servants to take precautions against their enemies, by being prepared with the necessary weapons and supplies, and increasing the number of troops fighting in His cause.

يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ خُذُواْ حِذْرَكُمْ فَانفِرُواْ ثُبَاتٍ أَوِ انْفِرُواْ جَمِيعاً 

“O you who believe! Take your precautions and advance in groups or advance all together.”

In the first part of the ayah appears the command to ensure the supply of weapon, while the latter part refers to the launching of Jihad action. This tells us two things right away. Firstly, as already clarified at several places, the act of getting together functional means to achieve a good purpose is not contrary to tawakkul or trust in Allah. Secondly, we see that the text limits itself to the command to ensure the supply of weapons, but it does not promise that, because of this support, Muslims will have any guaranteed security against their enemies. By doing so, it has been indicated that the choice of using means is for nothing but a certain peace of mind, otherwise, the use of means as such does not carry any operational gain or loss. The Qur’an has said, “Nothing will befall us except what Allah has prescribed for us.” [Surah at-Tawbah : 51]

Let us look at the first ayah again. It opens up with the command to get ready for Jihad followed by a description of the marching plan; the latter has been expressed in two sentences, that is,

فَانفِرُواْ ثُبَاتٍ أَوِ انْفِرُواْ جَمِيعاً 

“…and advance in groups or advance all together”. Here, the word, thubatin is the plural form of thubatun which means a small group and is used to denote a military company and was called a Sariyyah in the military campaigns of the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam. In that sense, it is being said here that Muslims, when they go out for Jiahd, should not start off all alone. They should, rather, set out in the formation of small groups. The other alternative is to march as a large army, jamian because in fighting, going alone is very likely to hurt – the enemy is not going to let this opportunity slip out of their hands.

No doubt, this instruction has been given to Muslims for the particular occasion of Jihad, but, even in normal circumstances, this is what the Shariah teaches – do not travel alone. In a hadith, therefore, a lone traveler is called one Shaytan and two of them two Shayateen and three of them become a group or party. Similarly, there is another hadith which says, “The best companions are four and the best military company is that of four hundred and the best army is that of four thousand.” [Mishkat as reported by al-Tabarani]


* It should be noted that this address was revealed at the time when the neighboring tribes had been emboldened by the defeat of the Muslims at Uhd. They were surrounded by danger on all sides and were hearing persistent rumors about the active hostilities of, and imminent attacks from, different quarters. There were cases of treachery also. The Muslim missionaries were invited cunningly to the outskirts of Madina. These circumstances urgently required that the Muslims should struggle hard to save the Islamic Movement from failure and destruction in the face of such overwhelming threats.


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