An-Nisa' (Arabic: ٱلنِّسَاءAn-Nisāʾ, "The Women")[1][2] is the fourth chapter (sūrah) of the Quran, with 176 verses (āyāt). The title derives from the numerous references to women throughout the chapter, including verses 4:34 and 4:127-130.[3]

Sura 4 of the Quran
ٱلنِّسَاء
An-Nisāʾ
Women
ClassificationMedinan
PositionJuzʼ 4–5
No. of Rukus24
No. of verses176

ClassificationEdit

Regarding the timing and contextual background of the supposed revelation (Asbāb al-nuzūl), it is a Medinan surah,[3] as confirmed by Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, who states that the sura must have been revealed after the hijrah based on the subject matter.[4]

Although an-Nisā typically appears as the fourth surah, according to the Nöldeke classification of surahs, based on Islamic traditions, "The Women" was approximately revealed as the hundredth surah.[5] Amir-Ali places it as the 94th surah, while Hz. Osman and Ibn`Abbas believe it is the 92nd.[6] Ja`fer es-Sadik places it as the 91st surah revealed.[6] Based on the legislation concerning orphans, the surah was most likely revealed after many Muslims were killed at the Battle of Uhud, leaving numerous dependants in the new Muslim community.[7] The revelation therefore began around the year three, according to the Islamic calendar, but was not completed until the year eight.[8] Consequently, parts of this surah, the second longest in the Quran, were revealed concurrently with portions of "The Examined Woman," sura 60.[8] However, the surah shows some thematic coherence, despite its disjointed and ongoing revelation.[9]

Furthermore, as relates to the placement of this surah within the Quran as a whole, Neal Robinson notes what he refers to as the "dovetailing" of surahs.[10] Based on this idea of structure, one surah ends with a topic that is immediately picked up in the next surah.[10] The Family of 'Imran, surah 3, includes a discussion of male and female near the end of the surah (3.195).[10] This theme continues at the beginning of surah 4:[10] "People, be mindful of your Lord, who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them spread countless men and women far and wide; be mindful of God, in whose name you make requests of one another."[11] This dovetailing may indicate a complex editorial process involved in ordering the surahs.[12]

Contents and backgroundEdit

 
Surah an-Nisā, is a chapter of the Quran regarding women.

This Medinian surah aims at protecting the newly formed Muslim community by outlining acceptable behavior for Muslims.[8] It illustrates the Quran's role as an authoritative legal source[13] and its ability to shape the community. The surah aims to eradicate the earlier practices of pagan, Arab communities that are no longer considered moral in the Muslim society.[8] For example, the section of this surah about dealing fairly with orphan girls (4:2-4) addresses the pre-Islamic Arabic practice of marrying orphan girls in order to take their property.[14]

Shirk (refer 4:48 and 4:116)[1] is held to be the worst form of disbelief, and it is identified in the Quran as the only sin that God will not pardon.[15]

Thematically, "an-Nisā" not only addresses concerns about women, but also discusses inheritance, marriage laws, how to deal with children and orphans, legal practices, jihād, relations between Muslim communities and People of the Book, war, and the role of Jesus as a prophet, rather than the son of God as Christians claimed.[8] Furthermore, in discussing war, this surah encourages the Muslim community to fight for the vulnerable in war,[14] as demonstrated by 4:75: "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!’?"[16] The surah addresses a multitude of issues faced by the early Muslim community and provides responses to the challenges the community faced. The wide variety of issues addressed in the surah and the length of the surah make it difficult to divide into literary structures. However, based on a study of themes present in each section of the Surah, Amīn Ahsan Islāhī divides the surah into three thematically-based sections: social reform, the Islamic community and its opponents, and a conclusion.[17] Mathias Zahniser presents an alternative means of looking at the structure of this surah. He claims that the central theme of this surah is the address to the Christians. He has come to this conclusion based on examination of the structure of the surah based on such devices as parallels, repetition, and ring composition.[18] However, Carl Ernst admits that more works needs to be done in this type of structural analysis in order to more fully understand the composition of such extensive suras.[18]

In Qur'an and Woman, Amina Wadud places interpretations of the Quran into three categories: traditional, reactive, and holistic.[19] The type of interpretation one applies to surah 4 greatly influences one's perspective on the role of women within Muslim society. Taking the third approach, a holistic approach, allows for a feminist reading of the Quran,[20] which is particularly relevant in relation to an-Nisā and can reshape the understanding of this surah.

ExegesisEdit

Verse 4:3Edit

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the servants) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from Ta`ulu.[1]:4:3[21]

A detailed explanation of this verse is given in in the 'interpretation' (Tafsir) of Ibn Kathir, a scholar of the Mamluk era.[1]:4:3

Verses 4:15 - 4:16Edit

In verses 4:15-16 the first, preliminary directives for the punishment for unlawful sexual intercourse are stated. The first verse deals with women. The punishment laid down was to confine them until further directives were revealed. The second verse (i.e. 16) relates to both sexes. The injunction lays down that they should be punished - that is, they should be beaten and publicly reproached. Later, another injunction was revealed see (Surah An-Nour Verse 24:2) which laid down that both the male and female should be given a hundred lashes.[22]

Verse 4:34Edit

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are Qanitat, and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard. As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct, admonish them, and abandon them in their beds, and beat them, but if they return to obedience, do not seek a means against them. Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.[1]:4:34[23]

There are a number of translations of the verse An-Nisa, 34 from the Arabic original, and all vary to some extent.[24]

The Middle East Media Research Institute has undertaken an analysis of the Verse and the religious rulings regarding wife-beating.[25]

An explanation of this verse is given in the 'interpretation' (Tafsir) of Ibn Kathir, a scholar of the Mamluk era.[1]:4:34 Some Muslims, such as Islamic feminist groups, argue that Muslim men use the text as an excuse for domestic violence.[26]

Verse 4:69Edit

Muhammad ibn Sulayman recorded that al-Sadiq relayed to his elderly father, Abu Muhammad ibn Sulayman, concerning the following verse: "And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger - those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favor of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions." (4:69) stating, "The Messenger of Allah in this verse is from of the prophets, and we (Ahl al-Bayt) in this subject are the truthful and the martyrs and you all, (our followers), are the righteous, so adopt this name."[27]

Verses 4:74 - 4:76Edit

Verse 4:74 - 76 So fight those who trade the life of this world with the Hereafter, in the cause of Allah, and whoever fights in the cause of Allah, and is killed or gets victory, We shall bestow on him a great reward. And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help who believe, fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of the Taghut. So fight against the friends of Shaytan; ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaytan.[1]:Verse 4.74 - 4:76

Tafsir Ibn Kathir says, "Therefore, the believers fight in obedience to Allah and to gain His pleasure, while the disbelievers fight in obedience to Shaytan. Allah then encourages the believers to fight His enemies".[1]:Verse 4.74 - 4:75 Islam allows war in self-defence (Quran 22:39), to defend Islam (rather than to spread it), to protect those who have been removed from their homes by force because they are Muslims (Quran 22:40), and to protect the innocent who are being oppressed (Quran 4:75).

"Some Muslim thinkers in the past, and some more radical Muslim thinkers today . . . (say in relation to Verse 4:76) . . . the so-called 'sword verses', have "abrogated" (revoked or anulled) the verses that permit warfare only in defence. They used these 'sword verses' to justify war against unbelievers as a tool of spreading Islam"."But the idea of a total and unrestricted conflict is completely unIslamic (as per other verses of the Quran)."[28]

Verse 4:89Edit

There are individuals from among you (the companions) that will attempt to trick, plot, deceive, and whisper (causing dissension) to divert you, and this what is described in, "They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper. (4:89)" He therefore advises his companions to avoid taking these individuals as helpers or guardians.[27]

Verse 4:91Edit

You will find others that wish to have security from you and security from their people. Every time they are sent back to Fitnah, they yield thereto. If they withdraw not from you, nor offer you peace, nor restrain their hands, take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you Thaqiftumuhum.[29] In their case, We have provided you with a clear warrant against them.[1]

Al-Awfi reported from Ibn Abbas,if they abandon Hijrah, As-Suddi said that this part of the Ayah means, "If they make their disbelief public take (hold of) them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Awliya nor helpers from them".[1]

Verses 4:127 - 4:130Edit

These verses cover issues associated with female orphans ; desertion by the husband and the desirability of marital peace.[1]:4:127-130

Verse 4:145Edit

In Kitab al-Kafi, Ja'far al-Sadiq writes a letter to his companions stressing the importance of obeying Allah, his Messenger, and the "Wali al Amr" (Progeny of Muhammad)- going so far as to say that those who disobey and deny their virtues are "liars and hypocrites". He asserts that these are the individuals described as "hypocrites" in the verse, "Indeed, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire - and never will you find for them a helper."

Verse 4:157Edit

And because of their saying, "We killed Al-Masih `Isa, son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah", but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared as that to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not.[1]:4:157[30]

An explanation of the Islamic view of Jesus as a prophet, rather than as the son of God as Christians claim is given in Tafsir Ibn Kathir.[1]:4:157

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Ibn Kathir. "Tafsir Ibn Kathir (English): Surah Al Nisa". Quran 4 U. Tafsir. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  2. ^ "The Meaning of the Glorious Qur'ân,: 4. an-Nisa': Women". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  3. ^ a b Haleem, M. A. S. Abdel. The Qur'an. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
  4. ^ “Tafsir Al-Mizan - An Exegesis of the Holy Quran by the Late Allamah Muhammad Hussain Tabatabai.” Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
  5. ^ Robinson, Neal. Discovering the Qur'an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text. London: SCM Press LTD, 1996. Print.77.
  6. ^ a b Smith, Clay Chip. "Revelation Order of the Qur'an According to 13 Sources." A Chronological Perspective of the Qur'an. N.p.. Web. 25 November 2012. Archived 13 September 2003 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Robinson, Neal. Discovering the Qur'an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text. London: SCM Press LTD, 1996. Print. 80.
  8. ^ a b c d e Qutb, Sayyid. In the Shade of the Qur'an. 3. eBook. Archived September 11, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Tafsir Al-Mizan - An Exegesis of the Holy Quran by the Late Allamah Muhammad Hussain Tabatabai.” Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d Robinson, Neal. Discovering the Qur'an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text. London: SCM Press LTD, 1996. Print. 266.
  11. ^ Haleem, M. A. S. Abdel. The Qur'an. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print. 50
  12. ^ Robinson, Neal. Discovering the Qur'an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text. London: SCM Press LTD, 1996. Print. 270.
  13. ^ Ernst, Carl W. How to Read the Qur'an : A New Guide, with Select Translations. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011. Ebook Library. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.
  14. ^ a b Haleem, M. A. S. Abdel. The Qur'an. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print. 50.
  15. ^ https://referenceworks.brillonline.com/browse/encyclopaedia-of-islam-2/alphaRange/Sh%20-%20Sn/S?s.start=300
  16. ^ Haleem, M. A. S. Abdel. The Qur'an. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print. 57.
  17. ^ Boullata, Issa J. Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qur'an. Richmond: Curzon Press, 2000. eBook. 29
  18. ^ a b Ernst, Carl W. How to Read the Qur'an : A New Guide, with Select Translations. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011. Ebook Library. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. 190.
  19. ^ Wadud, Amina. Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Texts from a Woman's Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print. 1.
  20. ^ Wadud, Amina. Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Texts from a Woman's Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print. 3.
  21. ^ https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/4/3/default.htm
  22. ^ "Towards Understanding the Quran". Islamic Foundation UK. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  23. ^ https://quran.com/4/34
  24. ^ "AYAH an-Nisa` 4:34". Islam Awakened. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  25. ^ Stalinsky, Steven (22 March 2004). "Muslim Clerics on the Religious Rulings Regarding Wife-Beating". Middle East Media Research Institute. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  26. ^ Nomani, Asra Q. (October 22, 2006). "Clothes Aren't the Issue". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2018-09-22.
  27. ^ a b al-Kulayni, Muhammad ibn Ya‘qūb (2015). Al-Kafi (Volume 8 ed.). NY: Islamic Seminary Incorporated. ISBN 9780991430864.
  28. ^ "Religions". BBC. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  29. ^ Firestone, Reuven (30 December 1999). "Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  30. ^ https://quran.com/4/157

External linksEdit