Surah 4. An-Nisaa

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Period of Revelation

This Surah is comprised of several discourses that were revealed on different occasions. Instructions about the division of inheritance and safeguarding of rights of the orphans were revealed after the Battle of Uhud in which 70 Muslims were martyred (vv. 1-28). By the end of A. H. 3, a last warning to the Jews (v. 47) was given before the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadheer was expelled from Al-Madinah in A.H. 4. Permission about Tayammum (ablution with clean earth when water is not available) was given during the expedition of Bani-al-Mustaliq in early A. H. 5.

Major Issues, Divine Law and Guidance:
  1. Restriction on number of wives.
  2. Marriage and the rights of women.
  3. Laws of inheritance, women are awarded the rights to inherit.
  4. Acceptable and unacceptable repentance.
  5. Mahram relations - relatives that are prohibited for marriage.
  6. Commandment about 'arbitration' in family disputes.
  7. Second commandment relating to the prohibition of drinking, ( first commandment was in Surah Al-Baqarah 2:219).
  8. The one who disputes the decision of the Prophet is not a believer.
  9. Divine Law that obedience of the Rasool is in fact the obedience of Allah.
  10. Allah commands to respond greetings with better greetings.
  11. Laws about manslaughter , murder and bloodwit.
  12. Salat-ul-Qasr: permission of short prayer in travelling.
  13. Salat-ul-Khauf: performing prayer in a state of emergency (war).
  14. Salat: ( prayers) are obligatory on prescribed timings.
  15. Prohibition of 'secret counsels' and its exceptions.
  16. Decree of Allah that He will never forgive a mushrik.
  17. Allah's commandment to be firm for justice and bear true witness.
  18. Allah's commandment to boycott un-Islamic meetings.
  19. The fact that hypocrites will be in the lowest depth of hellfire.
  20. Jesus was neither killed nor crucified.
  21. Jesus was a Prophet of Allah (Almighty God) and His worshipper.
  22. Stop saying "Trinity" - Allah is the One and Only God.
  23. The Qur'an carries the same Message that was sent to Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus).
  24. Allah's commandments relating to family life and community life.
Theme

The main theme of this Surah is the building of a strong Islamic community. Guidelines are provided to the Muslims for uniting their ranks to be firm and strong. Instructions are given to stabilize the family structure, which is the nucleus of a strong community. Muslims are urged to prepare themselves for defense and to be the torchbearers of Islam. The importance of having a high moral character in building a strong community is emphasized.

Guidelines for the smooth running of family life are provided and methods to settle family disputes are taught. Rules for marriage are prescribed and rights of wife and husband are assigned fairly and equitably. The status of women in the society is determined and the declaration about the rights of orphans is made. Laws and regulations are laid down for the distribution of inheritance. Instructions are given to reform the economic system. The foundation of criminal laws is laid down. Drinking is prohibited. Instructions are given for cleanliness and purification. The Muslims are taught what kind of relations they should have with their Rabb and with their fellow human beings. Instructions are given for the maintenance of discipline in the Muslim community.

The moral and religious condition of the People of the Book is reviewed to teach lessons to the Muslims, and a warning is given to refrain from following in their footsteps. The distinctive features of hypocrisy and true faith are clearly marked for easy identification between the two. The setback in the Battle of Uhud had enabled the mushrik Arab clans, the neighboring Jews, and the hypocrites in Al-Madinah to threaten the Muslims from all sides. At this critical stage, Allah's grace filled the Muslims with courage and gave them the necessary instructions during that period. In order to counteract the fearful rumors that were being spread by the hypocrites, they were asked to make a thorough inquiry about their accuracy and then inform the appropriate leadership. Muslims were experiencing difficulties in offering their Salah during the expeditions when water was not available to perform ablution. In such circumstances Allah granted a permission to make Tayammum (purification with clean earth), and to shorten the Salah or to offer the "Salat-ul-Khauf," when they were faced with danger. Instructions were also given to those Muslims who were living in the enemy camps that they should migrate to Al-Madinah, the Islamic State.

Clear instructions are also given regarding the hypocrites and nonbelligerent clans. On one hand, the superiority of Islamic morality and culture is established over that of the Jews, Christians and mushrikin; on the other hand, their incorrect religious concepts, immorality, and evil actions are criticized to prepare the ground for inviting them to the Right Way.

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