An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Brief Explanation of Surah an-Nisa Ayaat 88 – 91

The ayaat explained previously describe three groups of people about whom two injunctions have been given. The following narrations clarify events surrounding these groups:

Abdullah ibn Hamid has narrated from Mujahid that some disbelievers of Makkah came to Madina. They pretended to have become Muslims and claimed to have come there as emigrants. Later, they turned into apostates. They went to the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam, told him about their plan to go to Makkah to buy merchandise from there. Having made their false excuse, they departed for Makkah and never returned. There arose a difference of opinion about their behavior among the Muslims of Madina. Some said that they were believers. It was in ayah 88 where Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala declared that they were disbelievers and should be killed.

The hypocrites were not killed because they concealed their inner disbelief. But, the case of these people was different as their apostasy had come out in the open. As for those who took them to be Muslims, they may have, perhaps, taken a benign view of their action under some interpretation. However, this interpretation was based on sheer opinion not supported by any proof from the Shari’ah. That is why no reliance was placed on it.

Ibn Abi Shaybah has narrated from Hasan that Suraqah ibn Malik al-Mudlaji visited the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam after the events of Badr and Uhud and requested him to make peace with his tribe, Bani Mudlaj. Thereupon, he sent Khalid radhiAllahu anhu to them to conclude a peace treaty. The terms of the treaty were as follows:

“We will not support anyone against the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam. If the Quraysh become Muslims, we too shall become Muslims. All tribes who enter into alliance with us, they too shall become a party with us in this treaty.”

Thereupon, this ayah “they wish that you disbelieve like they have disbelieved” was revealed.

It has been narrated from ibn Abbas radhiAllahu anhu that the people mentioned in the ayah are those belonging to the tribes of Asad and Ghitfan who, when they came to Madina professed Islam outwardly, but to their own people they would confide that they had really believed in monkeys and scorpions while before Muslims they would piously declare that they were followers of their faith.

However, Dahhak ascribes this conduct to the tribe of Abd al-Dar according to a report from ibn Abbas. The first and the second narration appears in Rul al-Ma’ani, while the third narration can be seen in Ma’alim.

Regarding those mentioned in the third narration, it has been said in the ayah 91 that should these people refuse to leave you alone and insist on fighting, then do fight against them. From this, it can be deduced that in the event they make peace, there should be no fighting against them. [Bayal-ul-Qur’an]

In short, the three groups mentioned here are:

1. Those who do not emigrate despite their ability to do so in a period of time when emigration was a pre-requisite of faith in Islam. Or, after having emigrated, they go out of the new abode of Islam [Dar-ul-Islam] and return to the abode of disbelief [Dar-ul-Kufr]

2. Those who themselves enter a no-war pact with Muslims or those who join hands with those entering into such a pact

3. Those who make peace to buy time and once there comes an occasion to fight a war against Muslims, they would readily join the enemy camp throwing all treaty obligations to winds.

The command governing the first group is similar to that which governs the disbelievers in general. The second group is exempted from being arrested and killed. The third group deserves the same punishment as fixed for the first. These ayaat yield a total of two commands, that is, fighting in the absence of peace; and not fighting in the event of peace.

Different Forms of Emigration and Their Rules

Hijrah from the homeland of disbelief was enjoined on all Muslims during the early period of Islam. It is for this reason that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has prohibited treating those who fail to carry out this obligation as Muslims. Consequently, when Makkah was conquered, the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam declared, “There is no hijrah after the victory.”

It means now that the conquest of Makkah has made it the Abode of Islam, emigration from there was no more obligatory. This rule related to the period of time when emigration was considered to be a pre-condition of anyone’s faith. During those days, anyone who did not emigrate despite having the ability to do so was not taken to be a Muslim. But, later on, this injunction was abrogated and now this mode of emigration was ceased to exist.

There remains, however, another form of hijrah which has been identified in a hadith of Saheeh al-Bukhari where it was said that hijrah (not in the sense of abandoning one’s homeland, but in the sense of abandoning one’s sins) will continue to exist until there remains the time to repent.

Allamah Ayni, the commentator of al-Bukhari has said about this hijrah that it means the abandonment of sins. This subject also finds elucidation in a hadeeth of the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam where he is reported to have said that a muhajir (emigrant) is one who emigrates from everything prohibited by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. [al-Mirqat, v.1]

The discussion appearing above tells us that, technically, the word, hijrah is applied in a dual sense:

To leave one’s homeland in order to save one’s faith as was done by the Companions, radhiAllahu anhum – they left their homeland of Makkah and emigrated to Madina and Ethiopia.

To leave one’s sins.

Ayah 89 tells us that seeking help from disbelievers is forbidden (Haram). Pursuant to this, it appears in a narration that the ansaars of Madina sought the permission of the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam to seek help from the Jews to offset disbelievers whereupon he said, “The bad ones! We do not need them.” [Mazhari, v.2]

[Taken from Maaruf-ul-Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani]

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