Sunday, January 09, 2011

Surah 4 - An Nisa (Women)

An Nisa means The Woman. This Surah deals with Rights of Women in many parts in Property, in Marriage (gifts, laws of marriage, reconcialition, separation etc), though I have not given the details therein, as it is very detailed and might not interest a non-Muslim reader. Those interested can search up the net on topics like 'Rights of Women in Islam.'

This Surah begins with marriage rights, inheritance rights and other legal matters. Though the name of the Chapter is Surah An Nisa, the topics dealt therein are legal matters pertaining to all (men, women, children and orphans). In matters of guardianship of orphans and being a custodian of their property, a lot of stress is laid on dealing justly and kindly with them.

'And give to the orphans their properties and do not substitute the defective (of your own) for the good (of theirs). And do not consume their properties into your own. Indeed, that is ever a great sin'. (Ayat 2)

'And test the orphans (in their abilities) until they reach marriageable age. Then if you perceive in them sound judgement, release their property to them. And do not consume it excessively and quickly (anticipating) that they will grow up. And whoever (when acting as a guardian) is self-sufficient, should refrain (from taking a fee) ; and whoever is poor, let him take according yo what is acceptable. Then when you release their property to them, bring witnesses upon them. And sufficient is Allah as Accountant.' (Ayat 6)

'Indeed those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies, fire. And they will be burnt in a Blaze (Hellfire).' (Ayat 10)

Ayat 7 to Ayat 12 - Mostly deal with property and inheritance laws and distribution of wealth is to be done among kith and kin.

Ayat 19 to Ayat 25 - Deal with marriage laws; what and who is permissible and not, marriage gifts (mahr) etc.

Each and every law is detailed to precision in Quran. And to think of it in modern times is truly unbelievable! Earlier there were only a few learned men, who studied and understood Quran and truly understood it's meaning. Since not many were literate and understood the finer details, 'complete knowledge' was not passed to the common people. They were busy in their own struggles of daily survival. Practices were passed on, but many did not know the exact references. Some practices got diluted. Some practices/ teachings passed on by the clergy, were followed, but many did not know the reasons or the reasons for doing so! Now, data is easy accessible and can be easily passed on and shared. Quran and many Hadeeths are available in various translations. If only we could read Quran with meaning. That is why so many times in Quran itself, Allah urges everyone (men and women alike) to learn and gain knowledge. If only every Muslim does that, would we know where 'outside' things have been mixed in Islam to create confusion (and in turn create hatred for Muslims!). Sadly, uneducated fall prey, people with part knowledge of Islam are confused (often misguiding others), while the other remain adamant.

Coming back to Surah An Nisa and some rules regarding suicide, murder and taking someone else's wealth:

Ayat 29 - 'O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly, but only in lawful business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed Allah is to you ever Merciful'.

Ayat 30 - 'And whoever does that in aggression and in injustice - then We will drive him into a Fire. And that, for Allah, is always easy.

Ayat 31 - 'And if you avoid the major sins which are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance (into Paradise).'

What does the Surah say about reconciliation between husband and wife, who are considering separation ?
Ayat 35 - 'And if you fear dissension between the two (husband and wife), send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted (with all things).'
(It is so beautifully written that if the two within their hearts, desire reconcialition, after having fought for over some issue, then God will cause reconciliation between them).

About kindness and charity and worshipping Him alone...
Ayat 36 - 'Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near relative, the near neighbour, the neighbour farther away, the companion at your side, the traveller and those whom your right hands possess (servants/ slaves). Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful'.

Justice from Allah .....
Ayat 40 - Indeed, Allah does not do injustice (even) as much as an Atom's weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.

About keeping trusts (promises / obligation due) and dealing others with justice ....
Ayat 58 - Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people, to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.

Ayat 63 tells us to 'avoid' wrong people (or anyone who causes mischief), instead of using 'violence' against them. And to explain things to them in a kind way.
'Those are the ones of whom Allah knows what is in their hearts, so turn away from them (i.e do not use violence), but admonish them and speak to them a far-reaching (i.e effective) word'.

Many rulings of how believers should behave in public and their dealings with people are mentioned in Surah An Nisa. Some of them are stated below :

* Fighting in the cause of the oppressed :
Ayat 75 - And what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and (for) the oppressed among men, women and children who say " Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper.

* Greeting others :
Ayat 86 - And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet (in return) with one better than it or (at least) return it (in a like manner). Indeed, Allah is ever, over all things, an Accountant.
For example, if someone greet you with an 'Assalaam alaikum' (Peace be upon you), you must either return it with a 'Walaikum assalaam' (Peace be upon you too), or something better like 'Assalaam alaikum wa rahmatullah' (May Peace and mercy of Allah be upon you) or better still with 'Assalaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu' (May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be with you). Just a 'walaikum' means 'same to you'.

* Not supporting a wrong -doer
Ayat 107 - And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves. Indeed, Allah loves not one who is a habitualy a sinful deceiver.
Is this a warning for lawyers too ?

* Seeking forgiveness from God
Ayat 110 - And whoever does a wrong or wrong himself, but then seeks forgiveness of Allah, will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

* Admonition against committing sins :
Ayat 111- And whoever earns (i.e commits) a sin only earns it against himself. And Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

* Blaming one's sin on another :
Ayat 112 - But whover earns an offense or a sin and then blames it on an innocent (person), has taken upon himself a slander and manifest sin.

* One of the Rights given to women (right of seeking divorce) :
Ayat 128 - And if a woman fears from her husband contempt or evasion, there is no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement between them - and settlement is best. And present in (human) souls is stinginess. But if you do good and fear Allah, then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.

Before I disclose next 2 ayats, let me stress the fact that though, according to Islam, marrying more than one woman (upto a maximum of 4), is permissible, a pre-condition is that the person doing so, should have the ability to treat them all equally (financially as well as dividing his time equally between them). This, we all know, is not possible in today's times. Hence, those who truly understand the correct essence of Islam (including the clergy), have one wife only. Else this would invite the wrath of Allah. This is what is stressed in Ayat 129 and Ayat 130. Those who misuse this law are like those who break laws in any society by finding loopholes in them. ((But those who wish to help a needy Muslim sister and have the means and ability to divide time and money equally between them, may do so.))

Ayat 129 - And you will never be able to be equal (in feeling) between wives, even if you should strive (to do so). So do not incline completely (towards one) and leave another hanging. And if you amend your actions and fear Allah - then indeed, Allah is Ever Forgiving and Merciful.

Ayat 130 takes the previous ayat forward by further stressing, that if you cannot do justice to one of your wives, then instead of saddening her life by not giving what's due to her, it is better to separate. A muslim woman also has full right to seek divorce from her husband. And there is no restriction on her from marrying some other person after her divorce. Re-marriage is allowed for a widow too.

Ayat 130 - But if they separate (by divorce), Allah will enrich each (of them) from His abundance. And ever is Allah Encompassing and Wise.

Quran seems to be the only religion which permits Divorce between couples, if there is no means of reconcialition or if they do not wish to continue their marriage. But contrary to what people might think the divorce rate in Muslims isn't as high if you check comparative statistics around the world. And it might not always be from husband's side. The wife can also seek divorce from her husband in Islam through 'Khula' (a right given to her some 1400 years ago!). Though many religions did not originally have the divorce built within their religious texts, they were later included to suit their present day requirements. While some religions have added divorce under certain conditions, they continue to consider re-marriage as adultery. Further to suit today's times, rules have been manually made and included in country laws to make provisions for re-marriage and other rights for women.

The last few ayats (verses) talk about Mary and Jesus :

Ayat 156 - And (We cursed them) for their disbelief and their saying against Mary a great slander. (when the people had accused her of fornication).

Ayat 157 - And for their saying 'Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah'. And they did not kill him nor did they crucify him ; but (another) was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him for certain.

Ayat 158 - Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.

The ayats 157 and 158 pertain to the differences between Islam and Christianity over Jesus (SAS)'s crucification. Here is where Quran differs from the Christian belief that Jesus Christ was cruficied by his enemies and killed. Then he reappeared before them on the following Sunday (Easter). Quran is clear that Jesus was never crucified or died on earth. He was replaced by another man (a look-alike) and taken up by Allah. It is due to this fact, that the second coming of Jesus SAS on earth is justified in Islam, as those who have died on earth will not come back to live with us again.

Ayat 171 states that the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, is only a messenger of Allah. It also instructs believers to resist from saying 'three'. This refers to the trinity concept of Christianity.
Resist from saying 'three' - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God and He is above having a son'

Here the important points to note are -

* Islam places Mary amongst the purest of women and hence, people posing questions on her purity are cursed by Allah, the Almighty Himself. Though Bible speaks of Mary later being married to Joseph, the carpenter, there is no mention of Mary being married to anyone before or after giving birth to Jesus in Quran or even in any Hadeeths. So it cannot be verified or commented upon.

* Islam recognises Jesus as the Messiah, but restricts believers from calling him the son of God. Associating any human attributes to or any person/s with Allah is considered the Greatest Sin.

* Jesus, according to Islam, was never crucified but raised up by God to Himself.

The Surah (Chapter), in keeping with the essence of its name, ends with another right given to a woman, whose brother dies with no heirs but only sister/s, in ayat 176.

Jazakhallah Khair


sk said...

Shagufta, currently I'm trying to read the Quran along with the English translitration by M. Pikthall. At the same time I'm trying to read "A Thematic Commentary on the Quran" by the late Shaykh al-Ghazali. Recently I purchased a few volumes of Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi's - Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an. InshaAllah, I'll try to gain more knowledge and put into practice.

Shagufta said...

Alhamdulillah, very nice...
My suggestion to you is that you first run through the Quran with the basic translation. The one by Sahih International is in the simplest form and I am using that one for explanation. In that you will get to understand Quran first. Then you may go into the detailed tafseer.
May Allah guide and help u in gaining more knowledge.
I may be having lesser knowledge than you, but Alhamdulillah, when I try to cover some topic in context with Islam and Quran, data comes to me in various forms.
Do remember in your prayers.

sk said...

Thanks Shagufta. My intention is to get the essence of the Holy Quran from the basic translation and then go into the details by reading further. Inshallah, I'll try to follow your advice. You are really doing a very good work through your blog by touching important topics in context with Quran and Islam.

Shagufta said...

Thanks. I am trying by best. But I have time restrictions due to my job, travel time etc.