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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 4 (Al-Nisa’ - The Women) > Section 8 (Verses 51 to 59)


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Section/Ruku Ruku 8 [Verses 51 to 59]: Kingdom granted to Abraham’s descendants:
Chapter Chapter 4: (Al-Nisa’: The Women)
(Revealed at Madinah: 24 sections; 176 verses)

1. Translation:

51 Hast thou not seen those to whom a portion of the Book was given? They believe in sorcery
a and diviners and say of those who disbelieve: These are better guided in the path than those who believe.

52 Those are they whom Allah has cursed. And whomever Allah curses, thou wilt not find a helper for him.

53 Or have they a share in the kingdom? But then they would not give to people even the speck on a datestone.a

54 Or do they envy the people for that which Allah has given them of His grace? But indeed We have given to Abraham’s children the Book and the Wisdom, and We have given them a grand kingdom.a

55 So of thema is he who believes in him, and of them is he who turns away from him.b And Hell is sufficient to burn.

56 Those who disbelieve in Our Messages, We shall make them enter Fire. As often as their skins are burned, We shall change them for other skins,a that they may taste the chastisement. Surely Allah is ever Mighty, Wise.

57 And those who believe and do good deeds, We shall make them enter Gardens wherein flow rivers, to abide in them forever. For them therein are pure companions and We shall make them enter a pleasant shade.a

58 Surely Allah commands you to make over trustsa to those worthy of them, and that when you judge between people, you judge with justice. Surely Allah admonishes you with what is excellent. Surely Allah is ever Hearing, Seeing.

59 O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day.a This is best and more suitable to (achieve) the end.b

2. Commentary:

51a. Jibt means an idol or idols (LL): ‘Umar said, it means sorcery (B.65: iv, 10). Some consider it to be the same word as jibs, which means a worthless thing (Rz), or a thing in which there is no good. For taghut see 2:256b. Here it is explained as meaning kahin or diviner: Jabir said that every tribe had its own diviner (B. 65: iv, 10). It is related that in making a compact with the Quraish the Jews worshipped their idols (Rz). But the words seem to refer to the general debasement of the Jews, who believed in all kinds of enchantment, divination, and sorcery, and had long bidden farewell in practice to the pure monotheism of Moses. [Back to verse 51]

53a. The reference is apparently to the temporal and spiritual kingdom which was promised to Abraham’s seed, as clearly stated in the next verse. The Jews had been deprived of both. Love of wealth had debased them to such an extent that they were not fit for even temporal kingdom which could not be granted to a people who would not deal liberally with others. [Back to verse 53]

54a. By the people are meant the Arabs. The promised kingdom was still in Abraham’s seed, but was now transferred from the descendants of Israel to those of Ishmael, in accordance with the covenant made with Abraham; see 2:124a. [Back to verse 54]

55a. The children of Abraham, among whom were the Jews, are meant. [Back to verse 55]

55b. The personal pronoun is for the Holy Prophet Muhammad, who was now the true exponent of Abraham’s religion. [Back to verse 55]

56a. The form used signifies the continuance of the torment in accordance with the metaphor of fire. [Back to verse 56]

57a. Zill implies mightiness and inaccessibility and also a state of ease: the words are used here in allusion to happiness and pleasantness of life (R). [Back to verse 57]

58a. This section deals with the granting of kingdom to the Muslims, who are here required to entrust the affairs of State to people who are worthy of this responsibility. The words that follow, requiring judges to be just, corroborate this significance, the whole verse stating the reciprocal duties of the governed and the governors. Explaining the word amanat (sing. of amanat, the word occurring here and translated trusts), I‘Ab said that it means duties (LA). The Prophet himself explained the word amanat as meaning Government or affairs of State. “The Prophet said, When the amanat (trust) is wasted, wait for the sa‘ah, i.e. the hour or the doom. It was said, How will the trust be wasted, O Messenger of Allah? He said, When Government is entrusted to those unworthy of it, then wait for the doom” (B. 81:35). [Back to verse 58]

59a. This verse lays down three important rules of guidance in matters relating to the welfare of the Muslim community and especially in those relating to affairs of State. These are obedience to God and His Messenger in the first place; secondly, obedience to those in authority from among the Muslims; and thirdly, referring matters to God and His Messenger in cases of dispute with those in authority. God and His Messenger are thus the final authority. This is explained in the Hadith. “To hear and obey,” said the Prophet, “is binding so long as one is not commanded to disobey God; when one is commanded to disobey God, he shall not hear or obey (the authorities)” (B. 56:108). The words ulu-l-amr, meaning those in authority, have a wide significance, so that in different matters relating to the life of man different persons would be in authority. Thus the commander of a section of the army was considered as one in authority (B. 65: iv, 11). Temporal authorities are to be obeyed in secular matters while religious authorities must be obeyed in religious matters. It is especially in matters religious that differences would arise, in which case it would be necessary to refer the matter to God and His Messenger; in other words to the Qur’an and Hadith. The great Imam Abu Hanifah is himself reported to have said: “Give up my word for the Word of Allah; give up my word for the word of the Messenger of Allah”.

As regards the secular authorities, the rule is laid down in the Hadith that “the authority of those entrusted with it should not be disputed, unless,” the Prophet added, “you see an act of open disbelief in which you have a clear argument from Allah” (B. 93:2 ) .

The words of the verse speak only of those in authority from among you, and the question therefore arises, what should the Muslims do in case they have to live under non-Muslim authority? In such a case the Prophet’s own example in his relations with Abyssinia is a sufficient guide. About a hundred of the companions were advised by the Prophet to seek shelter in the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia where they lived for about ten years subject to the laws of the land. The rule is, however, laid down in clear words as already quoted that “when one is commanded to disobey God, he shall not hear or obey the authorities”. [Back to verse 59]

59b. Ta’wil (from ala, he returned) signifies interpretation, because the words are returned to their sense. But from the same original sense of returning follows its use in the sense of marja‘, i.e. final sequel, and ‘aqibah, i.e. issue, end, results (LL), and this is the significance which suits the context here. [Back to verse 59]

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Chapter 3: Al-'Imran (The Family of Amran)

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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 4 (Al-Nisa’ - The Women) > Section 8 (Verses 51 to 59)


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