Mujahidun Verse

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Mujāhidūn Verse (Arabic: آیة أَلْمُجَاهِدُون) is verse 95 of Sura al-Nisa' stressing the superiority of those who wage jihad over those who sit back and merely encourage the believers to go to jihad. On this verse, there is a difference between those who fail to attend a jihad due to disability and the like and those who fail to do so due to hypocrisy and hostility.

The verse points to different types of jihad with one’s property and with one’s life, saying that warriors in a jihad will receive a great reward.

Text and Translation

لَا يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُولِي الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنْفُسِهِمْ ۚ فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنْفُسِهِمْ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ دَرَجَةً ۚ وَكُلًّا وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ وَفَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا (95) دَرَجَاتٍ مِنْهُ وَمَغْفِرَةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا
"Not equal are those of the faithful who sit back—excepting those who suffer from some disability—and those who wage jihad in the way of Allah with their possession and their persons. Allah has graced those who wage jihad with their possessions and their persons by a degree over those who sit back; yet to each Allah has promised the best reward, and Allah has graced those who wage jihad over those who sit back with a great reward:(95) ranks from Him, forgiveness, and mercy, and Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful." (Qur'an 4:95-6)

Content of the Verse

The verse makes a comparison between those who do and those who do not wage jihad, saying that those who fail to serve in a jihad not because of disability, sickness, and the like are not equal to those who wage jihad. As to those who wanted to attend a jihad but failed to do so on account of some sort of disability, they are not on the same boat as those who refused to attend the jihad in an unjustified manner. Those people would have a remarkable share of the reward received by warriors. The reward does not extend to those who have not attended the jihad out of hypocrisy and enmity.

Persuading People to attend Jihad

The verse seeks to persuade people to attend jihad, trying to awaken the spirit of their faith by finding a motivation for surpassing others in good deeds. According to the author of al-Mizan, there is no denial that those waged jihad, were martyred, or defeated the enemy for the sake of God are superior over those did not do so, even if the latter has a proper excuse.

Occasion of Revelation

Fadl b. Hasan al-Tabarsi (d. 548/1153-4), the author of Majmaʿ al-bayan cites that the verse was revealed about three companions of the Prophet (s) called Kaʿb b. Malik, Marara b. Rabiʿa, and Hilal b. Umayya. In the Battle of Tabuk (the last battle by the Prophet that occurred in 9/630-1), hypocrites in Medina defied the Prophet’s order to wage a war against Romans, which is noted in various verses of the Qurʾan. However, those three people who defied the Prophet (s) in the Battle of Tabuk were not hypocrites. Rather, they were believers who hesitated to attend the war for reasons other than hypocrisy. They later regretted what they did and repented, and based on verse 118 of Sura al-Baraʾa, God accepted their repentance.

There is also an anecdote about 'Abd Allah b. Umm Maktum concerning with the revelation of this verse. Zayd b. Thabit is quoted as saying that the verse was revealed without the phrase “excepting those who suffer from some disability” and I was transcribing the verse. ʿAbd Allah b. Umm Maktum said, “I am blind. How can I attend a jihad?” It was at this time that the verse was revealed once again to the Prophet, and he told me to write, “Not equal are those of the faithful who sit back—excepting those who suffer from some disability—and those who wage jihad in the way of Allah.” In this way, a difference was made between those who were unable to go to jihad and those who failed to go to jihad without a valid excuse.

Jihad with one’s Possessions and Persons

The Verse of Mujahidun stresses that warriors should not only risk their persons and lives on the way of God, but also risk their possessions. 'Allama Tabataba'i believes that jihad through one’s possessions counts as a donation of one’s possessions for the sake of God in order to defeat the enemy. Sayyid Muhammad Husayni Hamadani believes that in this verse, jihad with one’s possessions precedes jihad with persons (or lives) because preparation with proper equipment and weapons involves great costs, which is why jihad with one’s possessions is more effective.

Those Who Sit Back

In this verse, God says that those who sit back are also rewarded. The author of Tafsir-i nimuna maintains that these are believers who failed to attend a jihad due to lack of sufficient resolution and determination. The verse gently addresses these people, saying that they would also receive rewards. Every righteous deed has a share of rewards which is never forgotten. For the verse is about believers who think of jihad as a sacred activity and wish for the participation in jihad, but failed to attend the jihad due to some sort of disability. They share the rewards of warriors to the extent that they aspired to be present in the battlefield.

There is a hadith from the Prophet (s) addressing those who attend a jihad as follows: “You have left behind a group of people in Medina who were with you on all paths and lands that you have crossed. These are people with sincere intentions, who were beneficent with their possessions, and had aspirations to attend the jihad, but failed to do so on account of disability and the like.

Reward of Warriors

The majority of translators have interpreted the verse as follows: the verse begins by saying that God has graced warriors over those who sit back (with proper excuse) with a degree, and then it says that both groups receive rewards, but God has given superiority to warriors over those who sit back with a great reward. Then, in the next verse, the great reward is said to be by degrees.

Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi who endorses this translation interprets away the inconsistency by saying that the first part of the verse states the very superiority of warriors over others, without being in a position to state the extent or degree of such superiority, but the second elucidates the superiority by saying that it is by many degrees.

The author of Majma' al-bayan comments that the first verse, in which the difference is said to be by one degree, is concerned with the superiority of warriors over those who sit back with valid excuse, while the statement that the superiority is by many degrees is concerned with the superiority of warriors over those who sit back without proper excuse.

'Allama Tabataba'i presents a different account. As to the term “degree” in the opening of the verse, he believes that this is not a statement of the extent of superiority. Rather, it merely says that the superiority of warriors over others is a superiority in degrees, not in other factors (which is referred to in Arabic literature as discrimination). In the end of the verse, it talks about the extent of the difference, which is by several degrees.