The Quran

Commentaries for 4.64

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.64 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(We sent no messenger save that he) that the messenger (should be obeyed by Allah's leave) by Allah's command; We do not send him so that he is opposed or has his judgement rejected by turning away from him. (And if, when they) those who built the counter mosque and Hatib (had wronged themselves) by so building it and turning away from you, (they had but come unto thee) to repent (and asked forgiveness of Allah) repented to Allah for their actions (and asked forgiveness of the messenger) and the Messenger prayed for them, (they would have found Allah Forgiving) He overlooks their transgressions, (Merciful) He is after repentance.
4.64 Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar
We sent not any messenger but that he should be obeyed by God's leave.
From the first to the last of this section is an allusion to the greatness of MuṣṬafā's rank in God's sight. It is one of the robes of honor given to him by God, for He has lifted up the intermediary and made his decree equal to His own decree. Just as approving of the Real's decision brings about the certainty of the tawḤīd-voicers, so also approving of the Messenger's decree brings about the faith of the faithful. Thus the world's folk will know that obeying the Messenger is to obey the Real, disobeying the Messenger is to disobey the Real, the words of the Messenger are the revelation
of the Real, the explanations of the Messenger are the road of the Real, the acts of the Messenger are the argument of the Real, the Shariah of the Messenger is the creed of the Real, the decree of the Messenger is the religion of the Real, and following the Messenger is friendship with the Real. Thus He says, “Follow me; God will love you” [3:31]. He is saying, “O master of masters! O paragon of engendered beings! O center point of the circle of newly arrived things! Say to My servants, 'If you want God to give you access to His friendship and approve of your servanthood, travel in my tracks, for I am His Messenger. Bind the belt of following me, receive my decrees in spirit and heart without resistance. Put forth your body, put down your neck, throw yourself into the decree, and do not give narrowness and tightness any access to yourself.'” This is why He says,
4.64 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
We never sent any Messenger, but that he should be obeyed, in what he commands and judges, by the leave, by the command, of God, and not that he should be disobeyed or opposed. If, when they had wronged themselves, by seeking the judgement of the false idol, they had come to you, repentant, and asked forgiveness from God, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them (there is a shift from the second [to the third] person in this address, in deference to his [the Prophet’s (s)] status); they would have found God Relenting, to them, Merciful, to them.
4.64 Kashani - Kashani
We never sent any Messenger, but that he should be obeyed by the leave of God, [to the end of] the verse: the difference between a messenger and a prophet is that messengership entails the communication of laws, [as in] O Messenger, communicate [what has been revealed to you] [Q. 5:67]. As for prophethood, this is to inform of spiritual knowledge and realities that have to do with the differentiated aspects of [God's] attributes and acts. Prophethood is the exoteric aspect of spiritual sanctity (walāya), which is to be absorbed in the source of the union and the annihilation in the essence. The knowledge of these two is the knowledge of the affirmation of the unity of the essence and the effacement of the acts and attributes. Thus every messenger is a prophet and every prophet is a spiritual guardian (walī), but not every spiritual guardian is a prophet, nor is every prophet a messenger, even if the rank of spiritual guardianship is nobler than prophethood and prophethood [nobler] than messengership, as it is said:
'The station of prophethood is in an interstice (barzakh) slightly below that of the spiritual guardian and just above that of the messenger'.
Thus a messenger is only sent to be obeyed, since his law is the law of God by virtue of the communication [inherent therein]. He must therefore be obeyed, but is only obeyed by His permission, for the one who is veiled from him by a shortcoming in his preparedness, such as the primordial disbeliever and the true wretched one, or [veiled from him] by the rusting [of the heart] and the effacement of preparedness, such as the hypocrite is in reality not permitted to be obedient.
If, when they had wronged their souls, by preventing these from what is due to them, namely, their [unrealised] perfections that are fixed in them in potentiality, and by sullying their preparedness by orienting themselves towards the pursuit of sensory pleasures and transient goals, they had come to you, out of [their own] volition as entailed by their preparedness, and asked forgiveness from God, [and] asked God to conceal the attributes of their souls, which are the sources of those acts that veil what is in their preparedness by the light of His attributes, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, by reinforcing them from the light of his attributes, which are the attributes of God, Might and Majestic, because of the interconnection that they have with him through genus and the place of will and love required by their nearness to him and their being admixed with him, they would have found God Relenting, cleansing and purifying of their preparedness with His light, for [His] acceptance of [their] repentance is the casting of the light of [His] attributes on them and the illumination of their inner aspects with the luminous configuration that protects them from erring in acts, given the remoteness of light from darkness, Merciful, effusing upon them the mercy of perfection that befits them in the way of certainty that comes through knowledge or entific existence or the Truth.
4.64-65 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Necessity of Obeying the Messenger
Allah said,
وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إلاَّ لِيُطَاعَ
(We sent no Messenger, but to be obeyed) meaning, obeying the Prophet was ordained for those to whom Allah sends the Prophet. Allah's statement,
بِإِذُنِ اللَّهِ
(by Allah's leave) means, "None shall obey, except by My leave,'' according to Mujahid. This Ayah indicates that the Prophets are only obeyed by whomever Allah directs to obedience. In another Ayah, Allah said,
وَلَقَدْ صَدَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ وَعْدَهُ إِذْ تَحُسُّونَهُمْ بِإِذْنِهِ
(And Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you when you were killing them (your enemy) with His permission) meaning, by His command, decree, will and because He granted you superiority over them. Allah's statement,
وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذ ظَّلَمُواْ أَنفُسَهُمْ
(If they (hypocrites), when they had been unjust to themselves,) directs the sinners and evildoers, when they commit errors and mistakes, to come to the Messenger, so that they ask Allah for forgiveness in his presence and ask him to supplicate to Allah to forgive them. If they do this, Allah will forgive them and award them His mercy and pardon. This is why Allah said,
لَوَجَدُواْ اللَّهَ تَوَّاباً رَّحِيماً
(they would have found Allah All-Forgiving (One Who forgives and accepts repentance), Most Merciful).
One Does not Become a Believer Unless He Refers to the Messenger for Judgment and Submits to his Decisions
Allah said,
فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ
(But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them,) Allah swears by His Glorious, Most Honorable Self, that no one shall attain faith until he refers to the Messenger for judgment in all matters. Thereafter, whatever the Messenger commands, is the plain truth that must be submitted to inwardly and outwardly. Allah said,
ثُمَّ لاَ يَجِدُواْ فِى أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجاً مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً
(and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.) meaning: they adhere to your judgment, and thus do not feel any hesitation over your decision, and they submit to it inwardly and outwardly. They submit to the Prophet's decision with total submission without any rejection, denial or dispute. Al-Bukhari recorded that `Urwah said, "Az-Zubayr quarreled with a man about a stream which both of them used for irrigation. Allah's Messenger said to Az-Zubayr,
«اسْقِ يَا زُبَيْرُ ثُمَّ أَرْسِلِ الْمَاءَ إِلى جَارِك»
(O Zubayr! Irrigate (your garden) first, and then let the water flow to your neighbor.) The Ansari became angry and said, `O Allah's Messenger! Is it because he is your cousin' On that, the face of Allah's Messenger changed color (because of anger) and said,
«اسْقِ يَا زُبَيْرُ ثُمَّ احْبِسِ الْمَاءَ حَتَّى يَرْجِعَ إِلَى الْجَدْرِ،ثُمَّ أَرْسِلِ الْمَاءَ إِلى جَارِك»
(Irrigate (your garden), O Zubayr, and then withhold the water until it reaches the walls (surrounding the palms). Then, release the water to your neighbor.) So, Allah's Messenger gave Az-Zubayr his full right when the Ansari made him angry. Before that, Allah's Messenger had given a generous judgment, beneficial for Az-Zubayr and the Ansari. Az-Zubayr said, `I think the following verse was revealed concerning that case,
فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ
(But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you (O Muhammad ) judge in all disputes between them.)''' Another Reason In his Tafsir, Al-Hafiz Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin `Abdur-Rahman bin Ibrahim bin Duhaym recorded that Damrah narrated that two men took their dispute to the Prophet, and he gave a judgment to the benefit of whoever among them had the right. The person who lost the dispute said, "I do not agree.'' The other person asked him, "What do you want then'' He said, "Let us go to Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.'' They went to Abu Bakr and the person who won the dispute said, "We went to the Prophet with our dispute and he issued a decision in my favor.'' Abu Bakr said, "Then the decision is that which the Messenger of Allah issued.'' The person who lost the dispute still rejected the decision and said, "Let us go to `Umar bin Al-Khattab.'' When they went to `Umar, the person who won the dispute said, "We took our dispute to the Prophet and he decided in my favor, but this man refused to submit to the decision.'' `Umar bin Al-Khattab asked the second man and he concurred. `Umar went to his house and emerged from it holding aloft his sword. He struck the head of the man who rejected the Prophet's decision with the sword and killed him. Consequently, Allah revealed,
فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
(But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith).
4.60-65 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In this verse, Taghut clearly stands for the authority that makes decisions in accordance with laws other than Divine and the system of judiciary which acknowledges neither Allah as the Supreme Sovereign nor His Book as the final authority. Hence, this verse is explained that it is contrary to Faith to take one's case for decision to a law court which by its nature is, that of taghut Belief in Allah and His Book makes it obligatory on the Believer that he should refuse to acknowledge such a court as lawful. According to the Qur'an, belief in Allah and disbelief in taghut are correlatives; therefore to acknowledge both at one and the same time is nothing but hypocrisy itself.
This shows that the hypocrites used to bring only such cases before the Holy Prophet as were likely to be decided in their favor, but would refrain from bringing such cases, which they feared, would be decided against them. The same is true of many hypocrites of today: they are ever ready to submit to the decisions of the Islamic Law if and whenever it goes in their favor; otherwise they resort to any law, any custom, and any law court which, they expect, will ensure their interests.
Probably it means that when their hypocritical deeds are exposed and they fear that action will be taken against them; they take oaths to assure the Believers of their innocence.
It clearly defines the position of the Messenger: the Messenger does not come from Allah so that the people should simply acknowledge him as a Messenger and then continue to obey anyone they like. The Messenger is sent with the sole object that the code of life brought by him only should be followed instead of all other codes, and the commandments brought by him from Allah only should be obeyed instead of all other commandments. If anyone does not acknowledge the Messenger in this sense, his acknowledging him merely as a Messenger would be meaningless.
The commandment contained in verse 65 was not meant to be confined to the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, but it was to hold good up to the Last Day. Whatever the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) brought from Allah and whatever way of life he followed and practiced under His guidance and inspiration, shall remain the final authority among Muslims for ever and the acknowledgment of that authority alone determines whether one is a true Muslim or not. According to a Tradition, the Holy Prophet said: "None of you can claim to be a believer unless he subordinates his desires and lusts to the way that I have brought."
4.64 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
We never sent any messenger but that he should be obeyed by the leave of God. If when they had wronged themselves they had come to you and asked forgiveness from God and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them they would have found God Relenting Merciful. “We only commanded the messengers to call created beings to Us.” If when they had wronged themselves they had come to you: “If they had made you their means of access they would have reached Us.” It is said “If they had practiced being humble and poor iftiqār and had jumped on the horse of asking forgiveness istighfār they would have come to rest in the courtyard of kindnesses mabārr.”