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Towards Understanding the Quran
With kind permission: Islamic Foundation UK
Introduction to Tafheem | Glossary | Verbs
Resources: Ibn Kathir | Maarif | Dawat 

 Surah An-Nisaa 4:88-90 / 176
  
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Verse Summary -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
۞ فَمَاSo what
لَكُمْ(is the matter) with you
فِىconcerning
ٱلْمُنَـٰفِقِينَthe hypocrites (that)
فِئَتَيْنِ(you have become) two parties?
وَٱللَّهُWhile Allah
أَرْكَسَهُمcast them back
بِمَاfor what
كَسَبُوٓاْ‌ۚthey earned.
أَتُرِيدُونَDo you wish
أَنthat
تَهْدُواْyou guide
مَنْwhom
أَضَلَّ ٱللَّهُ‌ۖAllah has let go astray?
وَمَنAnd whoever
يُضْلِلِ ٱللَّهُAllah lets go astray,
فَلَنthen never
تَجِدَwill you find
لَهُۥfor him
سَبِيلاًa way.
﴿٨٨﴾
وَدُّواْThey wish
لَوْif
تَكْفُرُونَyou disbelieve
كَمَاas
كَفَرُواْthey disbelieved
فَتَكُونُونَand you would be
سَوَآءً‌ۖalike.
فَلَاSo (do) not
تَتَّخِذُواْtake
مِنْهُمْfrom them
أَوْلِيَآءَallies
حَتَّىٰuntil
يُهَاجِرُواْthey emigrate
فِىin
سَبِيلِ(the) way
ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ(of) Allah.
فَإِنBut if
تَوَلَّوْاْthey turn back,
فَخُذُوهُمْseize them
وَٱقْتُلُوهُمْand kill them
حَيْثُwherever
وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ‌ۖyou find them.
وَلَاAnd (do) not
تَتَّخِذُواْtake
مِنْهُمْfrom them
وَلِيًّاany ally
وَلَاand not
نَصِيرًاany helper,
﴿٨٩﴾
إِلَّاExcept
ٱلَّذِينَthose who
يَصِلُونَjoin
إِلَىٰ[to]
قَوْمِۭa group
بَيْنَكُمْbetween you
وَبَيْنَهُمand between them
مِّيثَـٰقٌ(is) a treaty
أَوْor
جَآءُوكُمْthose who come to you
حَصِرَتْrestraining
صُدُورُهُمْtheir hearts
أَنthat
يُقَـٰتِلُوكُمْthey fight you
أَوْor
يُقَـٰتِلُواْthey fight
قَوْمَهُمْ‌ۚtheir people.
وَلَوْAnd if
شَآءَ ٱللَّهُAllah (had) willed,
لَسَلَّطَهُمْsurely He (would have) given them power
عَلَيْكُمْover you,
فَلَقَـٰتَلُوكُمْ‌ۚand surely they (would have) fought you.
فَإِنِSo if
ٱعْتَزَلُوكُمْthey withdraw from you
فَلَمْand (do) not
يُقَـٰتِلُوكُمْfight against you
وَأَلْقَوْاْand offer
إِلَيْكُمُto you
ٱلسَّلَمَ[the] peace
فَمَاthen not
جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُAllah (has) made
لَكُمْfor you
عَلَيْهِمْagainst them
سَبِيلاًa way.
﴿٩٠﴾


فَمَا لَـكُمۡ فِىۡ الۡمُنٰفِقِيۡنَ فِئَـتَيۡنِ وَاللّٰهُ اَرۡكَسَهُمۡ بِمَا كَسَبُوۡا​ؕ اَ تُرِيۡدُوۡنَ اَنۡ تَهۡدُوۡا مَنۡ اَضَلَّ اللّٰهُ​ ؕ وَمَنۡ يُّضۡلِلِ اللّٰهُ فَلَنۡ تَجِدَ لَهٗ سَبِيۡلًا‏  وَدُّوۡا لَوۡ تَكۡفُرُوۡنَ كَمَا كَفَرُوۡا فَتَكُوۡنُوۡنَ سَوَآءً​ فَلَا تَتَّخِذُوۡا مِنۡهُمۡ اَوۡلِيَآءَ حَتّٰى يُهَاجِرُوۡا فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ​ ؕ فَاِنۡ تَوَلَّوۡا فَخُذُوۡهُمۡ وَاقۡتُلُوۡهُمۡ حَيۡثُ وَجَدتُّمُوۡهُمۡ​ وَلَا تَتَّخِذُوۡا مِنۡهُمۡ وَلِيًّا وَّلَا نَصِيۡرًا ۙ‏  اِلَّا الَّذِيۡنَ يَصِلُوۡنَ اِلٰى قَوۡمٍۢ بَيۡنَكُمۡ وَبَيۡنَهُمۡ مِّيۡثَاقٌ اَوۡ جَآءُوۡكُمۡ حَصِرَتۡ صُدُوۡرُهُمۡ اَنۡ يُّقَاتِلُوۡكُمۡ اَوۡ يُقَاتِلُوۡا قَوۡمَهُمۡ​ ؕ وَلَوۡ شَآءَ اللّٰهُ لَسَلَّطَهُمۡ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فَلَقٰتَلُوۡكُمۡ​​ ۚ فَاِنِ اعۡتَزَلُوۡكُمۡ فَلَمۡ يُقَاتِلُوۡكُمۡ وَاَلۡقَوۡا اِلَيۡكُمُ السَّلَمَ ۙ فَمَا جَعَلَ اللّٰهُ لَـكُمۡ عَلَيۡهِمۡ سَبِيۡلًا‏ 
(4:88) What has happened to you that you have two minds about the hypocrites116 even though Allah has reverted them, owing to the sins that they earned?117 Do you want to lead those to the right way whom Allah let go astray? And he whom Allah lets go astray, for him you can never find a way. (4:89) They wish that you should disbelieve just as they disbelieved so that you may all be alike. Do not, therefore, take from them allies until they emigrate in the way of Allah, but if they turn their backs (on emigration), seize them and slay them118 wherever you come upon them. Take none of them for your ally or helper,



118 This is the verdict on those hypocritical confessors of faith who belong to a belligerent, non-Muslim nation and actually participate in acts of hostility against the Islamic state.
(4:90) unless it be such of them who seek refuge with a people who are joined with you by a covenant,119 or those who come to you because their hearts shrink from fighting either against you or against their own people. Had Allah so willed, He would certainly have given them power over you and they would have fought against you. If they leave you alone and do not fight against you and offer you peace,, then Allah does not permit you to harm them.

116.The problem of the hypocrites is discussed here. They had outwardly embraced Islam in Makka and in other parts of Arabia, but instead of migrating to the Domain of Islam they continued co live among their own people who were unbelievers, taking part in all their hostile machinations against Islam and the Muslims. It was not easy for the Muslims to decide how to deal with such people. Some were of the opinion that since they professed Islam, performed Prayers, fasted and recited the Qur'an they could not be treated as unbelievers. Here God pronounces His judgement on this issue.

Unless the following is made clear at this point, the reader is likely to miss the real object of not only this verse but of all those verses in which believers who have failed to migrate are characterized as hypocrites. The fact is that after the Prophet (peace be on him) migrated to Madina the Muslims came to possess a piece of territory where they could fulfil the dictates of their faith. At that time all Muslims who suffered from the pressures and constraints imposed on them by the unbelievers, and who did not enjoy the freedom to practise their religion, were directed to migrate to Madina, the Domain of Islam. It was in these circumstances that all those believers who were in a position to migrate to Madina, but who failed to do so because their hearth and home, kith and kin, and their material interests were dearer to them than Islam, were declared hypocrites. Those who were not really in a position to migrate were reckoned as 'feeble' see( verse 98 below).

It is obvious that Muslims living in non-Islamic territories can be called hypocrites only when the Domain of Islam either extends a general invitation to all of them or at least leaves its doors open to them. In such circumstances, all Muslims who are neither engaged in trying to transform the non-Islamic territory into a Domain of Islam nor inclined to migrate to the latter despite their ability to do so, will be deemed hypocrites. But if the Domain of Islam neither invites them nor even keeps its doors open for them, then they obviously cannot be declared hypocrites merely because of their failure to migrate. Such persons would be considered hypocrites only if they did something too outrageous to be consistent with true faith.

117. God has returned them whence they came because of their duplicity, their excessive hankering after their material interests, and their preference for the good of this world over that of the Next. Those people had indeed tried to extricate themselves from the grip of unbelief and to advance towards Islam. To be a true Muslim calls for single-mindedness. It requires a willingness to sacrifice all interests and advantages that are in conflict with the interests of Islam. It requires a faith in the Hereafter strong enough to enable a man to cheerfully sacrifice all worldly advantages for the sake of his eternal happiness. Since those people lacked these qualities they retraced their steps. Could there be any doubt about the stuff they were made of?

118. This is the verdict on those hypocritical confessors of faith who belong to a belligerent, non-Muslim nation and actually participate in acts of hostility against the Islamic state.

119. The exception here does not relate to the injunction that they should not be taken as friends and supporters, but to the injunction that the believers should seize and slay them. What is meant is that if a hypocrite takes shelter among an unbelieving people with whom the Muslims have an agreement he should not be pursued into that territory. It is not permissible for Muslims of the Islamic state to kill a hypocrite in some neutral territory even if he merits execution. This is because of the sanctity of the agreement concluded by the Muslims rather than the sanctity of the hypocrite's blood.

119. The exception here does not relate to the injunction that they should not be taken as friends and supporters, but to the injunction that the believers should seize and slay them. What is meant is that if a hypocrite takes shelter among an unbelieving people with whom the Muslims have an agreement he should not be pursued into that territory. It is not permissible for Muslims of the Islamic state to kill a hypocrite in some neutral territory even if he merits execution. This is because of the sanctity of the agreement concluded by the Muslims rather than the sanctity of the hypocrite's blood.