An-Nisa · Juz 6 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 148

The Permission to Utter Evil in Public, For One who was Wronged


In this ayah, the victim of injustice has been permitted to protest against the perpetrator of injustice, or to go to a court of law to seek redress.

لاَّ يُحِبُّ اللَّهُ الْجَهْرَ بِالسُّوءِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ إِلاَّ مَن ظُلِمَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ سَمِيعاً عَلِيماً

“Allah does not like public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged and ever is Allah hearing and knowing.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala disapproves of a person who openly declares something that is evil. Actions and words can be hidden as well as exposed to people. For example, when we keep something in our heart only we are aware of it but when a person screams or yells it is known as jahr. Jahr is to say or do something publically.

A person has a choice to speak good words or evil ones. From a hadeeth of Rasoolullah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam we learn that if a person cannot speak good then it’s better for him to remain silent. There’s no need for someone to keep talking when there’s nothing good in their speech.

Examples of jahr: backbiting, foul language, lying, mockery, making fun of someone, picking on people publically, making du’a against someone, accusation, slandering, cursing. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala doesn’t like that something like this should be done except by the one who has been wronged; a person on whom zulm has been done. A person who has been oppressed or treated unjustly has the right to do sou.

Some people say that since they are righteous otherwise they can sometimes do jahr and it’d be okay. Similarly, elder people think they can yell at children or those younger than them in public. Being older doesn’t mean you can make fun of others or scold them publically, be it a parent, an elder sibling, teacher anyone.

If the oppressed person makes a du’a against the oppressor then he’s allowed to do so. Why? Because in this case, he’s not the one who initiated injustice, he’s only defending himself. However, a person should be careful about his choice of words. He cannot use foul language. A believer is tayab and he avoids dirtying his tongue by uttering foul words. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has granted concession to the one who has been wronged, allowing him to settle scores with the one who wronged him in this world; that is allowed only to an extend commensurate with the original wrong, with no transgression, overstepping the mark or wrongdoing.

Silence is not the answer as something has to be done to stop the oppressor. The one oppressed is allowed to discuss his problem with another person such as a person of authority. For example, people used to bring their cases to Rasoolullah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam because they trusted him and he was wise. Now, if you’re in an oppressing situation where someone is not giving you your haq such as husband-wife or a business partner instead of spreading it all over town you should approach the right person with your problem. Arguments and disagreements are common, but sometimes in doing so we talk too much than is necessary.

Not only are we wasting another person’s time, but also speaking more than is necessary. Women spend too much time talking to people about others. How much energy do we waste in texting, chatting, emails? It’s a waste of time. It’s jahr bi sou. If you really want help talking to one or two person is enough. You don’t have to publicize your personal matters.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Sami and Aleem, He is listening and also aware of what’s happening with you. Therefore, be careful about what you say.

Hasan Al-Basri once said that one should not invoke Allah’s curse against whoever wronged him rather he should supplicate, “O Allah! Help me against him and give me my right from him.” Why did he advice this? Because it doesn’t suit a believer to dirty his tongue by cursing someone. A believer in his ihklaq is a person of superior conduct.

In another narration he said, “Allah has allowed one to invoke Him against whoever wronged him without transgressing the limits.”

Abdul Karim bin Malik al-Jazari said about this ayah, “When a man curses you, you could curse him in retaliation. But if he lies about you, you may not lie about him.”

Abu Dawud recorded that Abu Hurayrah radhiAllahu anhu said that the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,

المُسْتَبَّانِ مَا قَالَا، فَعَلَى الْبَادِئ مِنْهُمَا مَا لَمْ يَعْتَدِ الْمَظْلُوم

“Whatever words are uttered by those who curse each other, then he who started it will carry the burden thereof, unless the one who was wronged transgresses the limit.”


Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala disapproves of and dislikes that evil should be uttered in public. A believer should be extremely careful about the words he uses. What’s goes in the head comes out of mouth. So we should be careful about what we are listening to. We should cleanse our tongues and ears from foul words. There’s no allowance for any Muslim to say anything bad about another person in public.

Avoid negative speech. If we make a commitment with ourselves that we will not let negative thoughts come to our mind a lot of problems in our life will just go away. If someone else is cooking food and we are just standing nearby we can’t resist commenting on their cooking skills. Similarly, at office we take pride in being sarcastic about how another person works. Why? Why can’t we restrain our tongues from speaking? Wouldn’t it be better to do dhikr rather than bicker all the time?

Today, a common passion of people is to comment on the politicians or higher management. In doing so sometimes we use really bad words for them. Have we thought that every word that slips from my mouth is being recorded? When our mere conversation can’t change the situation then why are we dirtying our tongue? If your slandering could help or fix the wrong, things would have improved. There’s no goodness in sou [evil words or evil deeds] so we need to be extra vigilant about what words are we uttering.    

Silence is not the answer because if you don’t stop the zaalim he will spread his zulm. For example, if children start using foul language you can’t let them speak those words. It will become a habit. So we have to stop the zaalim. 

You don’t use harsh words in general, but if a person has been wronged there’s a concession. He may do so. Why? In order to stop the oppressor.

When a person is sharing with others that a zulm has been done upon him, he should be aware that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Sami and Aleem, He is listening to what is being said and better aware of the situation. Therefore, no one should transgress.

We learn about the justice of our deen i.e. the person who has been oppressed is allowed to speak up for himself and the oppressor be stopped.

We also learn about the cleanliness, the tahara of our deen i.e. not only are the evil actions prohibited, but even evil words are not tolerated. A believer is not allowed to dirty his tongue by using foul language.

The deen teaches us to stand up for justice especially when we can do something. If we can’t do anything, there’s no point in complaining. A point to think how pointless are the political talk shows which only invoke our anger and do nothing credible about actual problems. People keep complaining about the government but what are they doing to stop this oppression?


3 thoughts on “Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 148

  1. Actually one of my shia friend is giving the reference of above ayat no 148 of surah nisa in order to justify their act of matam please elaborate on this ayah through my e mail

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