The discourse in Surah Al-Nisaa moves on, after discussing the laws and regulations that protect the family, into the bigger family of the Muslim community in Madinah. Particularly, the disobedient members are called out for their actions:
By your Lord, they will not be true believers until they let you decide between them in all matters of dispute, and find no resistance in their souls to your decisions, accepting them totally [4:65]
Fighting to protect the rights of the weak
Because the life of a believer is sacred, The Surah gives guidance on political legislation and fighting in order to protect the rights of the weak; The Ayahs clearly mention the objectives of and the limitations of war and do not allow for any misinterpretation that justifies killing of innocent civilians from other communities.
وَمَا لَكُمْ لاَ تُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاء وَالْوِلْدَانِ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْ هَذِهِ الْقَرْيَةِ الظَّالِمِ أَهْلُهَا
Why should you not fight in God’s cause and for those oppressed men, women, and children who cry out, ‘Lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors! By Your grace, give us a protector and give us a helper!’? [4:75]
In addition, here’s some few pointers on these Ayahs:
- The capital punishment is to be applied on those hypocrites with political allegiance to enemies of the Madinah community [4:91]
- A believer shall never kill another believer except by mistake [4:92]; and in that case, full compensation is to be made [4:92]
- The Muslims should NOT be hasty to condemn a non-Muslim as an enemy, as long as they greet them with the greeting of peace, even in times of war [4:94]; in addition, a full and fair investigation is required before any judgment is being made.
- Do not submit and surrender to oppression, if you can afford to migrate to other countries where you can practice your religion without persecution [4:97].
- Take all necessary steps for your safety, however if war is evitable, then fight bravely and with confidence [4:71-78]
Rights of Minorities:
A very interesting story happened in Madinah, and the Ayahs 105-113 were revealed to comment on it: one of the Muslims stole a very valuable shield. The prophet PBUH was very upset with this news, but was relieved when other Muslims came and accused a Jewish guy and defended their Muslim brother. However, Allah SWT revealed those Ayahs to announce the truth: The Jew is innocent, and the Muslim is guilty, and justice has to be served no matter what the situation is. Allah rebuked in a gentle way his beloved prophet PBUH and reminded him to be always on the side of justice (although technically he did not do any mistake because he acted based on whatever evidence he had at that time).
إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِتَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِمَا أَرَاكَ اللَّهُ وَلاَ تَكُن لِّلْخَائِنِينَ خَصِيمًا
We have sent down the Scripture to you [Prophet] with the truth so that you can judge between people in accordance with what God has shown you. Do not be an advocate for those who betray trust.” [4:105]
These Ayahs are concluded by reminding the prophet PBUH about Allah’s grace and guidance to make sure that Muslims do not oppress others:
وَلَوْلاَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكَ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لَهَمَّت طَّائِفَةٌ مِّنْهُمْ أَن يُضِلُّوكَ
If it were not for the grace of God and His mercy to you, Oh Prophet, a party of them would have tried to lead you astray; [4:113]
Later on, The Quran commands us to practice justice even if it was against our personal benefits:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا فَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ الْهَوَى أَن تَعْدِلُواْ
You who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. Refrain from following your own desire, so that you can act justly. [4:135]
The Hypocrites & The People of the book
The Surah is concluded with the injustices that were committed by the hypocrites and the people of the book:
إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُواْ إِلَى الصَّلاةِ قَامُواْ كُسَالَى يُرَاؤُونَ النَّاسَ وَلاَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
The hypocrites try to deceive God, but it is He who causes them to be deceived. When they stand up to pray, they do so sluggishly, showing off in front of people, and remember God only a little. [4:142]
Moreover, the Jews were rebuked in the Quran for some injustices that they committed:
فَبِظُلْمٍ مِّنَ الَّذِينَ هَادُواْ حَرَّمْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ طَيِّبَاتٍ أُحِلَّتْ لَهُمْ وَبِصَدِّهِمْ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا . وَأَخْذِهِمُ الرِّبَا وَقَدْ نُهُواْ عَنْهُ وَأَكْلِهِمْ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا (160-161)
For the wrongdoings done by the Jews, We forbade them certain good things that had been permitted to them before: for having frequently debarred others from God’s path; for taking usury when they had been forbidden to do so; and for wrongfully devouring other people’s property. For those of them that reject the truth we have prepared an agonizing torment. [4:160-161]
And because the Quran teaches us to be fair, it teaches us not to generalize, because there will be always some exceptions from the people of the book:
لَّكِنِ الرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ مِنْهُمْ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَالْمُقِيمِينَ الصَّلاةَ وَالْمُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ أُوْلَئِكَ سَنُؤْتِيهِمْ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
But those of them who are well grounded in knowledge and have faith do believe in what has been revealed to you [Muhammad], and in what was revealed before you– those who perform the prayers, pay the prescribed alms, and believe in God and the Last Day– to them We shall give a great reward. [4:162]
Please read this Surah and reflect on two meanings:
- Be proud of being part of this beautiful faith, which provides a recipe that ensures the safety and security of the inner family and the extended community at large.
- Treat everyone around you, starting with your family, with justice and mercy.