The Quran

Commentaries for 4.88

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.88 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
The following was revealed about ten hypocrites who left Islam and Medina for Mecca: (What aileth you) O group of believers (that you are become two parties) one party of the view that the hypocrites' wealth and blood are lawful and a party holding the opposite view (regarding the hypocrites) who abandoned Islam, (when Allah cast them back (to disbelief) because of what they earned) because of their hypocrisy and evil intentions? (Seek you to guide) to the religion of Allah (him whom Allah hath sent astray) from His religion? (He whom Allah sendeth astray) from His religion, (for him thou (O Muhammad) canst not find a road) you cannot find a religion or argument in their favour.
4.88 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
When a group retreated from Uhud, people were at variance over their status. Some said, ‘Let us slay them’, while others said, ‘No!’ So the following was revealed: What is wrong with you, what is the matter with you, that you have become two parties, two groups, regarding the hypocrites, when God has overthrown them, He has turned them back [to disbelief], for what they earned?, in the way of disbelief and acts of disobedience. What, do you desire to guide him whom God has sent astray?, that is, to count them among the guided (the interrogative in both places is for disapproval). And he whom God sends astray, you will never find for him a way, a path to guidance.
4.88-91 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Censuring the Companions for Disagreeing over the Hypocrites who Returned to Al-Madinah Before Uhud
Allah criticizes the believers for disagreeing over the hypocrites. There are conflicting opinions over the reason behind revealing this Ayah. Imam Ahmad recorded that Zayd bin Thabit said that Messenger of Allah marched towards Uhud. However, some people who accompanied him went back to Al-Madinah, and the Companions of the Messenger of Allah divided into two groups concerning them, one saying they should be killed and the other objecting. Allah sent down,
فَمَا لَكُمْ فِى الْمُنَـفِقِينَ فِئَتَيْنِ
(Then what is the matter with you that you are divided into two parties about the hypocrites) The Messenger of Allah said,
«إِنَّهَا طَيْبَةُ، وَإِنَّهَا تَنْفِي الْخَبَثَ، كَمَا يَنْفِي الْكِيرُ خَبَثَ الْحَدِيد»
(She (Al-Madinah) is Taybah, and she expels filth, just as the billow expels rust from iron.) The Two Sahihs also recorded this Hadith. Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said that the Ayah was revealed about some people in Makkah who said they embraced Islam, yet they gave their support to the idolators. One time, theses people went out of Makkah to fulfill some needs and said to each other, "If we meet the Companions of Muhammad, there will be no harm for us from their side.'' When the believers got news that these people went out of Makkah, some of them said, "Let us march to these cowards and kill them, because they support your enemy against you.'' However, another group from the believers said, "Glory be to Allah! Do you kill a people who say as you have said, just because they did not perform Hijrah or leave their land Is it allowed to shed their blood and confiscate their money in this case'' So they divided to two groups, while the Messenger was with them, and did not prohibit either group from reiterating their argument. Thereafter, Allah revealed,
فَمَا لَكُمْ فِى الْمُنَـفِقِينَ فِئَتَيْنِ
(Then what is the matter with you that you are divided into two parties about the hypocrites) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this Hadith. Allah said,
وَاللَّهُ أَرْكَسَهُمْ بِمَا كَسَبُواْ
(Allah has cast them back because of what they have earned.) meaning, He made them revert to, and fall into error. Ibn `Abbas said that,
(Arkasahum) means, `cast them'. Allah's statement,
بِمَا كَسَبُواْ
(because of what they have earned) means, because of their defiance and disobedience to the Messenger and following falsehood.
أَتُرِيدُونَ أَن تَهْدُواْ مَنْ أَضَلَّ اللَّهُ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ سَبِيلاً
(Do you want to guide him whom Allah has made to go astray And he whom Allah has made to go astray, you will never find for him a way.) meaning, there will be no path for him, or way to guidance. Allah's statement,
وَدُّواْ لَوْ تَكْفُرُونَ كَمَا كَفَرُواْ فَتَكُونُونَ سَوَآءً
(They wish that you reject faith, as they have rejected, and thus that you all become equal.) means, they wish that you fall into misguidance, so that you and they are equal in that regard. This is because of their extreme enmity and hatred for you. Therefore, Allah said,
فَلاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ مِنْهُمْ أَوْلِيَآءَ حَتَّى يُهَاجِرُواْ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْاْ
(So take not Awliya' from them, till they emigrate in the way of Allah. But if they turn back,) if they abandon Hijrah, as Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas. As-Suddi said that this part of the Ayah means, "If they make their disbelief public.''
Combatants and Noncombatants
Allah excluded some people;
إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ يَصِلُونَ إِلَى قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُمْ مِّيثَـقٌ
(Except those who join a group, between you and whom there is a treaty (of peace),) meaning, except those who join and take refuge with a people with whom you have a pact of peace, or people of Dhimmah, then treat them as you treat the people with whom you have peace. This is the saying of As-Suddi, Ibn Zayd and Ibn Jarir. In his Sahih, Al-Bukhari recorded the story of the treaty of Al-Hudaybiyyah, where it was mentioned that whoever liked to have peace with Quraysh and conduct a pact with them, then they were allowed. Those who liked to have peace with Muhammad and his Companions and enter a pact with them were allowed. It was reported that Ibn `Abbas said that this Ayah was later abrogated by Allah's statement,
فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُواْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ
(Then when the Sacred Months have passed, kill the idolators wherever you find them) Allah said,
أَوْ جَآءُوكُمْ حَصِرَتْ صُدُورُهُمْ
(or those who approach you with their breasts restraining) referring to another type of people covered by the exclusion from fighting. They are those who approach the Muslims with hesitation in their hearts because of their aversion to fighting the Muslims. They do not have the heart to fight with the Muslims against their own people. Therefore, they are neither with nor against Muslims.
وَلَوْ شَآءَ اللَّهُ لَسَلَّطَهُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ فَلَقَـتَلُوكُمْ
(Had Allah willed, indeed He would have given them power over you, and they would have fought you.) meaning, it is from Allah's mercy that He has stopped them from fighting you.
فَإِنِ اعْتَزَلُوكُمْ فَلَمْ يُقَـتِلُوكُمْ وَأَلْقَوْاْ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَمَ
(So, if they withdraw from you, and fight not against you, and offer you peace,) meaning, they revert to peace,
فَمَا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ سَبِيلاً
(then Allah has opened no way for you against them), you do not have the right to kill them, as long as they take this position. This was the position of Banu Hashim (the tribe of the Prophet ), such as Al-`Abbas, who accompanied the idolators in the battle of Badr, for they joined the battle with great hesitation. This is why the Prophet commanded that Al-`Abbas not be killed, but only captured. Allah's statement, d
سَتَجِدُونَ ءَاخَرِينَ يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَأْمَنُوكُمْ وَيَأْمَنُواْ قَوْمَهُمْ
(You will find others that wish to have security from you and security from their people.) refers to a type of people who on the surface appear to be like the type we just mentioned. However, the intention of each type is different, for the latter are hypocrites. They pretend to be Muslims with the Prophet and his Companions, so that they could attain safety with the Muslims for their blood, property and families. However, they support the idolators in secret and worship what they worship, so that they are at peace with them also. These people have secretly sided with the idolators, just as Allah described them,
وَإِذَا خَلَوْاْ إِلَى شَيَـطِينِهِمْ قَالُواْ إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ
(But when they are alone with their Shayatin, they say: "Truly, we are with you.''). In this Ayah, Allah said,
كُلَّ مَا رُدُّواْ إِلَى الْفِتْنِةِ أُرْكِسُواْ فِيِهَا
(Every time they are sent back to Fitnah, they yield thereto.) meaning, they dwell in Fitnah. As-Suddi said that the Fitnah mentioned here refers to Shirk. Ibn Jarir recorded that Mujahid said that the Ayah was revealed about a group from Makkah who used to go to the Prophet in Al-Madinah pretending to be Muslims. However, when they went back to Quraysh, they reverted to worshipping idols. They wanted to be at peace with both sides. Allah commanded they should be fought against, unless they withdraw from combat and resort to peace. This is why Allah said,
فَإِن لَّمْ يَعْتَزِلُوكُمْ وَيُلْقُواْ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَمَ
(If they withdraw not from you, nor offer you peace) meaning, revert to peaceful and complacent behavior,
وَيَكُفُّواْ أَيْدِيَهُمْ
(nor restrain their hands) refrain from fighting you,
(take (hold of) them), capture them,
وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ
(and kill them wherever you Thaqiftumuhum.), wherever you find them,
وَأُوْلَـئِكُمْ جَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَـناً مُّبِيناً
(In their case, We have provided you with a clear warrant against them), meaning an unequivocal and plain warrant.
4.88-91 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This passage deals with the problem of those hypocritical Muslims who had accepted Islam in Makkah and other parts of Arabia but had not emigrated, to Madinah. They lived as before with their people, and took more or less a practical part in all their hostile activities against Islam and the Muslims. They had become a very difficult problem for the Muslims who did not know how to deal with them. Some Muslims were of the opinion that they were after all "Muslim" because they recited the kalimah (the article of the Muslims' Faith), offered the Salat, observed the Fast and recited the Qur'an. Then how could they be dealt with like the disbelievers? Allah in this passage has removed that difference of opinion from among the Muslims and told them how to deal with them.
At this place one should clearly understand why those Muslims who did not emigrate to Madinah were declared to be hypocrites; otherwise one might not be able to interpret correctly this passage and the like passages of the Qur'an. The fact of the matter is that when the Holy Prophet migrated to Madinah and conditions were created there for the fulfillment of the requirements of Islam, a general order was given that all those Muslims who were oppressed in any place and in any tribe or clan and could not freely carry out their Islamic obligations, should migrate to Madinah, "the Abode of Islam." As a result, all those who could emigrate but did not do so because they loved their homes, their relatives and their interests more than Islam, were declared to be hypocrites. Only such of those as were really being prevented by impediments were declared to be helpless in verse 97 of this Surah.
It is obvious that the Muslims living in the "abode of unbelief" may be declared hypocrites for not migrating only if a general invitation is extended to them by the people living in "the Abode of Islam", or at least the doors of" the Abode of Islam" are kept open for them. In such a case all those Muslims who may be doing nothing to change "the abode of unbelief" into "the Abode of Islam", nor emigrate to "the Abode of Islam", even if they could, would be declared hypocrites.
Allah turned the hypocrites back to their former unbelief because they followed a double-faced policy and were time-servers. As they preferred the life of this world to that of the Hereafter, they had entered the fold of Islam with some mental reservations. They were not prepared to sacrifice those interests which came into conflict with the requirements of the Faith and they did not have that firm belief in the Hereafter which makes one sacrifice with perfect peace of mind this world for the sake of the Next World: It has thus become obvious that the line of demarcation was so clearcut that there ought not to have been two opinions about hypocrisy.
Here the Muslims have been asked to catch hold of those hypocrites who belonged to the belligerent disbelievers and were actually engaged in hostile activities against the Islamic State.
The exception is only concerning the first part of the Command. Though the blood of such a hypocrite is lawful, he is not to be pursued and killed, if he has sought asylum in the territory of a non-Muslim State, which is an ally to the Islamic State. This is not because of the sanctity of the blood of the hypocrite but because of the sanctity of the treaty.
4.88 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
What is wrong with you that you have become two parties regarding the hypocrites when God has overthrown them for what they earnedḍ What do you desire to guide him whom God has sent astrayḍ And he whom God sends astray you will never find for him a way. “Hold to the covenant regarding them for they are My enemies aʿdāÌī. Neither in this world or the next will they receive My good pleasure riḌāÌī. Your concern for them will not save them from what has been determined by My decree qismatī. The decrees do not revolve around [human] anxieties.”
4.88 Tustari - Al-Tustari
…When God Himself has cast them back because of what they earned?...That is, He returned them to the state of ignorance of Him which was the natural constitution of their souls. And the Prophet also said: ‘Do not clean yourselves [after defecation] with bones or animal droppings, for these [undergo] a reversal’, meaning that these return from their former state to becoming the food of jinn. What, do you wish to guide him whom God has left to stray? Misguidance (iḍlāl) from God is His withdrawing His protection (ʿiṣma) [of a person] from that which is forbidden, and His withdrawing His assistance (maʿūna) [from a person] in what He has commanded. His words, Exalted is He:
4.88 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(What aileth you that ye are become two parties regarding the hypocrites…) [4:88]. Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn Yahya informed us> Abu 'Amr Isma'il ibn Najid> Yusuf ibn Ya'qub al-Qadi> 'Amr ibn Marzuq> Shu'bah> 'Adiyy ibn Thabit> 'Abd Allah ibn Yazid ibn Thabit who reported that a group of people initially accompanied the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, to Uhud but then turned back and returned to Medina. The Muslims were divided in their opinions about them. Some of them were of the opinion that they should be killed while others thought they should be spared, and so this verse was revealed. This was revealed by Bukhari> Bundar> Ghundar and also by Muslim> 'Abd Allah ibn Mu'adh> his father; and both transmitters (Ghundar and Ibn Mu'adh's father) related it from Shu'bah. 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hamdan al-'Adl informed us> Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Ja'far ibn Malik> 'Ubayd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal> his father> al-Aswad ibn 'Amir> Hammad ibn Salamah> Muhammad ibn Ishaq> Yazid ibn 'Abd Allah ibn Qusayt> Abu Salamah ibn 'Abd al-Rahman> his father who related that a group of Arabs came to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and embraced Islam. Then they contracted the illness and fever that was going round in Medina and, as a result, renounced Islam and left Medina. They were met by a group among the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace who asked them: “Why did you leave Medina?” They replied: “We contracted the illness of Medina and for this reason we disliked remaining there”. The Companions said: “Do you not have a good example in the person of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace?” Some of the Companions were of the opinion that these Arabs were hypocrites while others thought they were still Muslims. And because of this difference of opinion, Allah, exalted is He, revealed (What aileth you that ye are become two parties regarding the hypocrites…). Mujahid said apropos this verse: “This was revealed about some people who left Mecca to Medina, claiming to be Emigrants. They then renounced Islam and asked permission from the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, to go to Mecca to bring some merchandise with which to trade. The believers were divided in their opinions about this matter. Some thought that these people were hypocrites while others were of the opinion they were believers. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed their hypocrisy by means of this verse and commanded that they be executed in His saying (if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them…) [4:89]. They took their merchandise intending to go to Hilal ibn 'Uwaymir al-Aslami, who had a treaty of alliance with the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and it is he who was vexed to fight the believers, and so fighting was suspended by the saying of Allah, exalted is He, (Except those who seek refuge with a people between whom and you there is a covenant…) [4:90]”.