An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 85

Interceding for a Good or an Evil Cause

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala opens this ayah by saying,

مَّن يَشْفَعْ شَفَـعَةً حَسَنَةً يَكُنْ لَّهُ نَصِيبٌ مِّنْهَا

“Whoever intercedes for a good cause will have for himself a share of it…”

meaning, whoever intercedes in a matter that produces good results, will acquire a share in that good.

وَمَن يَشْفَعْ شَفَـعَةً سَيِّئَةً يَكُنْ لَّهُ كِفْلٌ مَّنْهَا

“…and whoever intercedes for an evil cause will have a portion of it.”

meaning, he will carry a burden due to what resulted from his intercession and intention.

To sum up the meaning of the ayah, it can be said that one who makes a recommendation following the permissible way for someone’s permissible claim or job, will have a share in its reward. Similarly, one who makes a recommendation for something impermissible or uses an impermissible method to do so, will have a share in its punishment.

Having a share means that, should the person to whom the recommendation has been made do the needful for the one oppressed or deprived, the person making the recommendation will be rewarded very much like the official who has listened to the recommendation and removed the injustice or deprivation cited therein. Similarly, one who makes a recommendation for something impermissible will obviously become a sinner – we already know that the reward or punishment of the maker of a recommendation does not depend on his recommendation become effective and fruitful; he will get his share in any case.

The Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam has said, “A person who brings someone around to do a good deed gets a reward similar to the doer of the good deed.”

In another hadeeth from Abu Huraira radhiAllahu anhu appearing in ibn Majah, the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam has been reported to have said, “Whoever helps in the killing of a Muslim even by part of a word will face Allah with a sign written (on his forehead) in between his eyes: (This man is) ‘deprived from the mercy of Allah’.”

Towards the end of ayah 85, it was said,

وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ مُّقِيتاً

“And Allah is on everything a Keeper.”

Lexically, the word muqeet means powerful as well as the observer and the dispenser of sustenance. All these three meanings can be deduced from this statement. In the first sense, the meaning would be that Allah is powerful over everything. For Him the rewarding and punishing of the one who makes a recommendation and the one who executes it is not difficult.

Taken in the second sense, the meaning would be that Allah is ever-present observing everything. He knows best who is making a recommendation with what intention, such as, is it being done sincerely to help out some brother-in-faith just for the sake of Allah and His pleasure, or the purpose is to make him a target of self-interest and get some advantage out of him as a bribe. Taken in the third sense, the meaning would be that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Himself responsible for the dispensation of sustenance; whatever He has written for someone has got to reach him. A recommendation by someone is not going to leave Him choiceless. In fact, He will bestow on whomsoever He wills as much of sustenance as He wills. However, the maker of a good recommendation gets a reward for free because he has extended a helping hand to the helpless.

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