An-Nisa · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

Introduction to Surah an-Nisa

Order of Revelation: 92
Place of Revelation: Madinah

Relationship between Surah an-Nisa and Surah Aal-Imran

Surah Aal-Imran concluded with an exhortation to Taqwa,

“O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.” 
[Qur’an 3:200]

[Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayah 200]

Surah an-Nisa now begins with Taqwa in the mode of a command,

“O mankind, fear your Lord who created you from a single soul, and from it created its match, and spread from the two, many men and women. And fear Allah in whose Name you ask each other (for your rights), and surely, Allah is watchful over you. And give the orphans their property, and do not substitute what is bad for what is good, and do not eat up their property along with your own. It is surely, a great sin.”
[Qur’an 4:1-2]

Surah Aal-Imran spoke about the battles, described the manner of treating antagonists, condemned misappropriation in battle spoils and took up several other matters. In the earlier parts of Surah an-Nisa, there are commands about rights related to one’s own people which must be fulfilled while living and interacting with them. These rights include the rights of orphans, relatives and wives precisely Huqooq-ul-Ibadthe rights of the servants of Allah.

[Surah Aal-Imran – A Recap]

Other than these rights there are some which can be enforced through law, such as transactions of buying and selling. The rights involved in a lease, tenancy and wages can be settled through mutual agreements and arbitration; should a party fall short in fulfilling settled rights, these can be legally retrieved and enforced. However, the fulfillment of the rights of those in one’s own charge – children, parents, husband, wife and orphans – and the rights of other relatives which fall on one another – all depend upon civilized behavior, respect, love and care, and above all on the genuinely heartfelt desire to do what is good for them.

These are behavior patterns which can neither be weighed on a scale of things nor through mutual agreements. There is just no other method of their fulfillment except having the fear of Allah and the fear of what would happen in the life to come. This is known as “Taqwa” which is more effective than the combined powers of government and law.

[Righteousness Comes From Taqwa]

Hence, this Surah opens with the command of Taqwa when it says,

يَـأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ
“O mankind, fear your Lord.”
[SOURCE: Ma’arif ul Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani]

Virtues of Surah An-Nisa

In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim recorded that ‘Abdullah bin Mas’oud radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “There are five ayaat in Surat An-Nisa that I would prefer to the life of this world and all that is in it,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَظْلِمُ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ

“Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom’s weight…” (4:40)

إِن تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ

“If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden…” (4:31)

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۚ

“Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills.” (4:48)

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذ ظَّلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّهَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيمًا

 “And if, when they wronged themselves, they had come to you, [O Muhammad], and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Accepting of repentance and Merciful.” (4:64)

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ يَجِدِ اللَّهَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

“And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (4:110)

Al-Hakim recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “Ask me about Surah An-Nisa, for I learned the Qur’an when I was still young.”

[SOURCE: Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

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