Sūra al-Nisāʾ (Arabic: سورَة النِساء) is the forth sura of the Qur'an in the forth to sixth juz's. It is a Madani Sura. It is called "al-Nisa'" (women) because many jurisprudential rulings concerning women are stated in this Sura. Sura al-Nisa' is mainly concerned with the rulings of marriage and inheritance. It is also concerned with some rulings of the prayer, jihad and martyrdom. It also contains contents about the People of the Book and the fates of past nations. The sura also contains warnings against hypocrites.
A well-known verse in this sura is the verse fifty nine, known as Uli l-Amr Verse in which God orders Muslims to obey the "Uli l-Amr" (people of authority). According to hadiths, "Uli l-Amr" refers to Shiite Imams (a). Other well-known verses of Sura al-Nisa' are verses of tayammum and maharim. The Prophet (s) is quoted as saying of the virtues of Sura al-Nisa' that if one recites this sura, it will be as if he gave alms as much as the heritages of all believers and he will be given a reward equivalent to that of emancipating a slave. He will be pure from polytheism, and in God's providence, he will be one of the people forgiven by God.
The Sura is called "al-Nisa'" (women) because the word, "nisa'" occurs more than twenty times in it and many jurisprudential rulings of women appear therein. It is also known as "Sura al-Nisa' al-Kubra" (literally: the major sura of women), because Qur'an 65 is also known as "Sura al-Nisa' al-Sughra" (literally: the minor sura of women) or "Sura al-Nisa' al-Qusra" (literally: the short sura of women).
- Place and order of revelation:
Sura al-Nisa' is a Madani Sura. In its order of revelation, it is the ninety second sura revealed to the Prophet (s). And in the traditional order of compilation, it is the 4th sura of the Qur'an in forth to sixth juz's.
- Number of verses and other features:
Sura al-Nisa' has 176 verses, 3764 words, and 16328 letters. With respect to its size, it counts as one of Sab' Tiwal (the seven long suras), and it is the second longest sura of the Qur'an after Qur'an 2. Sura al-Nisa' occupies about one and a half juz's of the Qur'an.
According to al-Mizan, Sura al-Nisa' is concerned with the rulings of marriage, such as the number of wives a man can marry and people whom one cannot marry. It also states the rulings of inheritance as well as other issues, such as the rulings of prayer, jihad, martyrdom, and very briefly, the People of the Book. Other issues in this sura include: calling to faith and justice, stories of past nations, mutual rights and obligations of people in the society, jihad against unbelievers, and warnings against hypocrites.
The verse twenty three of Sura al-Nisa' states the prohibition of marrying some relatives. "Mahārim" (plural form of "mahram") is a jurisprudential term referring to relatives it is forbidden to marry. With respect to the grounds of being mahram (blood relation, marriage, and rida' or breastfeeding), Maharim are distinguished to "nasabi" (by blood), "sababi" (by marriage), and "rida'i" (by breastfeeding).
Verse of Tayammum
Verse forty three of Sura al-Nisa' states the rulings of tayammum. According to this verse, if water is harmful for one's body or if water is not accessible to one, one can perform tayammum instead of wudu or ghusl.
Uli l-Amr Verse
Verse fifty nine of this sura orders believers to obey God, the Messenger of God, and "Uli l-Amr". Shiite exegetes as well as some Sunni exegetes, such as al-Fakhr al-Razi, believe that the verse implies the infallibility of Uli l-Amr. There are many hadiths in Shiite sources to the effect that "Uli l-Amr" are the Infallible Imams (a).
Verses of "Nushuz"
Verses thirty four and 128 of Sura al-Nisa' are known as Verses of Nushuz. "Nushuz" is a jurisprudential term mainly referring to a wife's disobedience of her husband in things like sexual requests and leaving the house without his permission. It is also used for a man when he disrespects her and does not observe her rights. In some hadiths, a man's "nushuz" is interpreted as his decision to divorce his wife.
Over thirty verses in Sura al-Nisa' are known as "Ayat al-Ahkam" (jurisprudential verses). A large number of these verses state the rulings of marriage (such as verses three, twenty-twenty five, thirty four-thirty five, and 128) and the rulings of inheritance (such as verses seven, fifteen-sixteen, twenty five, thirty three, and 176). For example, verse three says that men are permitted to have four wives, and verses twenty three-twenty four are concerned with relatives who count as mahārim, that is, the ones it is forbidden to marry. The shares of inheritance for sons and daughters (two shares for sons and one share for daughters), as well as fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives, are specified in some verses.
Other rulings stated in this sura include:
- Saying prayer while one is drunken (verse 43),
- Crossing a mosque while one is junub (verse 43),
- Tayammum (verse 43),
- Rulings of the prayer (verses 101-103),
- Returning a trust (verse 58),
- Rulings concerning orphans and mad people (verses 5-6),
- Rulings of unintentional killing (verse 92),
- Showing off (verse 38),
- Rulings of greeting (verse 86),
- Rulings of the dominance of unbelievers over believers (verse 141),
- Avoiding polytheism (verse 36), doing good to one's parents (verse 36),
- And men being in charge of women (verse 34).
- Satan's swearing to mislead human beings (verses 118-120).
- The disobedience of the Israelites (asking Moses (a) to show God to them, worshiping a calf, covenant of the Mount Sinai, the covenant of no transgression on the sabbath, murdering some prophets, saying a great slander against Maryam (a), and the claim that they killed Jesus (a) (verses 153-157).
Virtues and Features
The Prophet (s) is quoted as saying that if one recites Sura al-Nisa', it would be as if he gave alms as much as the heritages of all believers and he will be given the reward equivalent to that of someone who emancipated a slave and will be pure from polytheism, and in God's providence, he will be one of those who are forgiven by God. Imam 'Ali (a) is also quoted as saying that if one recites Sura al-Nisa' on Fridays, he will be protected from the pressure of the grave.
There are virtues for the recitation of this sura mentioned in sources of hadiths, such as the removal of fear (if it is washed with rain water and drunk) and finding lost things. According to al-Shaykh al-Tusi's Misbah al-mutahajjid, it is recommended to recite Sura al-Nisa' after the morning prayer on Fridays.
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