Surah An-Nisa Ayat 59 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 59
O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.
O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination.
Believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those from among you who are invested with authority; and then if you were to dispute among yourselves about anything refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you indeed believe in Allah and the Last Day; that is better and more commendable in the end.
O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger (SAW), if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.
O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and those of you who are in authority; and if ye have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the messenger if ye are (in truth) believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the end.
O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and the ones endowed with the command (i.e. those in authority) among you. So in case you contend together about anything, then refer it to Allah and the Messenger, in case you believe in Allah and the Last Day; that is most charitable (i.e. most beneficial) and fairest in interpretation.
You who believe, obey God and the Messenger, and those in authority among you. If you are in dispute over any matter, refer it to God and the Messenger, if you truly believe in God and the Last Day: that is better and fairer in the end.
Quran 4 Verse 59 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah An-Nisa ayat 59, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(4:59) Believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those from among you who are invested with authority; and then if you were to dispute among yourselves about anything refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you indeed believe in Allah and the Last Day; that is better and more commendable in the end.
89. This verse is the cornerstone of the entire religious, social and political structure of Islam, and the very first clause of the constitution of an Islamic state. It lays down the following principles as permanent guidelines:
(1) In the Islamic order of life, God alone is the focus of loyalty and obedience. A Muslim is the servant of God before anything else, and obedience and loyalty to God constitute the centre and axis of both the individual and collective life of a Muslim. Other claims to loyalty and obedience are acceptable only insofar as they remain secondary and subservient, and do not compete with those owed to God. All loyalties which may tend to challenge the primacy of man’s loyalty to God must be rejected. This has been expressed by the Prophet (peace be on him) in the following words: ‘There may be no obedience to any creature in disobedience to the Creator.’ (Muslim, ‘Iman’, 37; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 3, p. 472 – Ed.)
(2) Another basic principle of the Islamic order of life is obedience to the Prophet (peace be on him). No Prophet, of course, is entitled to obedience in his own right. Obedience to Prophets, however, is the only practical way of obeying God, since they are the only authentic means by which He communicates His injunctions and ordinances to men. Hence, we can obey God only if we obey a Prophet. Independent obedience to God is not acceptable, and to turn one’s back on the Prophets amounts to rebellion against God. The following tradition from the Prophet (peace be on him) explains this: ‘Whoever obeyed me, indeed obeyed God; and whoever disobeyed me, indeed disobeyed God.’ (Bukhari, ‘Jihad’, 109; ‘I’tisam’, 2; Muslim, ‘Amarah’, 32, 33; Nasa’i, ‘Bay’ah’, 27; etc. – Ed.) We shall see this explained in more detail a little further on in the Qur’an.
(3) In the Islamic order of life Muslims are further required to obey fellow Muslims in authority. This obedience follows, and is subordinate to, obedience to God and the Prophet (peace be on him). Those invested with authority (ulu al-amr) include all those entrusted with directing Muslims in matters of common concern. Hence, persons ‘invested with authority’ include the intellectual and political leaders of the community, as well as administrative officials, judges of the courts, tribal chiefs and regional representatives. In all these capacities, those ‘invested with authority’ are entitled to obedience, and it is improper for Muslims to cause dislocation in their collective life by engaging in strife and conflict with them. This obedience is contingent, however, on two conditions: first, that these men should be believers; and second, that they should themselves be obedient to God and the Prophet (peace be on him). These two conditions are not only clearly mentioned in this verse they have also been elucidated at length by the Prophet (peace be on him) and can be found in the Hadith. Let us consider, for example, the following traditions: A Muslim is obliged to heed and to obey an order whether he likes it or not, as long as he is not ordered to carry out an act of disobedience to God (ma’siyah). When ordered to carry out an act of disobedience-to God he need neither heed nor obey.
There is no obedience in sin; obedience is only in what is good (ma’ruf). (For these traditions see Bukhari, ‘Ahkam’, 4; ‘Jihad’, 108; Muslim, ‘Amarah’, 39; Tirmidhi, ‘Jihad’, 29; Ibn Majah, ‘Jihad’, 40; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 2, pp. 17 and 142 – Ed.)
There will be rulers over you, some of whose actions you will consider good and others abominable. Who even disapproves of their abominable acts will be acquitted of all blame, and whoever resents them he too will remain secure (from all blame); not so one who approves and follows them in their abominable acts. They (i.e. the Companions) asked: ‘Should we not fight against them?’ The Prophet (peace be on him) said: ‘No, not as long as they continue to pray.’ (See Bukhari, Jihad’, 108 – Ed.)
This means that their abandonment of Prayer will be a clear sign of their having forsaken obedience to God and the Prophet (peace be on him). Thereafter it becomes proper to fight against them. In another tradition the Prophet (peace be on him) says:
Your worst leaders are those whom you hate and who hate you; whom you curse and who curse you. We asked: ‘O Messenger of God! Should we not rise against them?’ The Prophet (peace be on him) said: ‘No, not as long as they establish Prayer among you: not as long as they establish Prayer among you.’ (See Muslim, Amarah’, 65, 66; Tirmidhi, ‘Fitan’, 77; Darimi, ‘Riqaq, 78; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 6, pp. 24, 28 – Ed.)
In this tradition the position is further clarified. The earlier tradition could have created the impression that it was not permissible to revolt against rulers as long as they observed their Prayers privately. But the latter tradition makes it clear that what is really meant by ‘praying’ is the establishment of the system of congregational Prayers in the collective life of Muslims. This means that it is by no means sufficient that the rulers merely continue observing their Prayers: it is also necessary that the system run by them should at least be concerned with the establishment of Prayer. This concern with Prayer is a definite indication that a government is essentially an Islamic one. But if no concern for establishing Prayer is noticed, it shows that the government has drifted far away from Islam making it permissible to overthrow it. The same principle is also enunciated by the Prophet (peace be on him) in another tradition, in which the narrator says: ‘The Prophet (peace be on him) also made us pledge not to rise against our rulers unless we see them involved in open disbelief, so that we have definite evidence against them to lay before God’ (Bukhari and Muslim).
(4) In an Islamic order the injunctions of God and the way of the Prophet (peace be on him) constitute the basic law and paramount authority in all matters. Whenever there is any dispute among Muslims or between the rulers and the ruled the matter should be referred to the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and all concerned should accept with sincerity whatever judgement results. In fact, willingness to take the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Messenger as the common point of reference, and to treat the judgement of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the last word on all matters, is a central characteristic which distinguishes an Islamic system from un-Islamic ones. Some people question the principle that we should refer everything to the Book of God and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be on him). They wonder how we can possibly do so when there are numerous practical questions involved, for example, rules and regulations relating to municipal administration, the management of railways and postal services and so on which are not treated at all in these sources. This doubt arises, however, from a misapprehension about Islam. The basic difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim is that whereas the latter feels free to do as he wishes, the basic characteristic of a Muslim is that he always looks to God and to His Prophet for guidance, and where such guidance is available, a Muslim is bound by it. On the other hand, it is also quite important to remember that when no specific guidance is available, a Muslim feels free to exercise his discretion because the silence of the Law indicates that God Himself has deliberately granted man the freedom to make his decision.
90. Since the Qur’an is not merely a legal code, but also seeks to instruct, educate, admonish and exhort, the earlier sentence which enunciates a legal principle is followed by another which explains its underlying purpose and wisdom. Two things are laid down. First, that faithful adherence to the above four principles is a necessary requirement of faith. Anyone who claims to be a Muslim and yet disregards the principles of Islam involves himself in gross self-contradiction. Second, the well-being of Muslims lies in basing their lives on those principles. This alone can keep them on the straight path in this life, and will lead to their salvation in the Next. It is significant that this admonition follows immediately after the section which embodies comments about the moral and religious condition of the Jews. Thus the Muslims were subtly directed to draw a lesson from the depths to which the Jews had sunk, as a result of their deviation from the fundamental principles of true faith just mentioned. Any community that turns its back upon the Book of God and the guidance of His Prophets, that willingly follows rulers and leaders who are heedless of God and His Prophets, and that obeys its religious and political authorities blindly without seeking authority for their actions either in the Book of God or in the practice of the Prophets, will inevitably fall into the same evil and corruption as the Israelites.
59. O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those of you who are in authority. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Ayah,
(Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those of you who are in authority.) “Was revealed about `Abdullah bin Hudhafah bin Qays bin `Adi, who the Messenger of Allah sent on a military expedition.” This statement was collected by the Group, with the exception of Ibn Majah At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan, Gharib”. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Ali said, “The Messenger of Allah sent a troop under the command of a man from Al-Ansar. When they left, he became angry with them for some reason and said to them, `Has not the Messenger of Allah commanded you to obey me’ They said, `Yes.’ He said, `Collect some wood,’ and then he started a fire with the wood, saying, `I command you to enter the fire.’ The people almost entered the fire, but a young man among them said, `You only ran away from the Fire to Allah’s Messenger. Therefore, do not rush until you go back to Allah’s Messenger, and if he commands you to enter it, then enter it.’ When they went back to Allah’s Messenger , they told him what had happened, and the Messenger said,
(Had you entered it, you would never have departed from it. Obedience is only in righteousness.)” This Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs. Abu Dawud recorded that `Abdullah bin `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The Muslim is required to hear and obey in that which he likes and dislikes, unless he was commanded to sin. When he is commanded with sin, then there is no hearing or obeying.) This Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs. `Ubadah bin As-Samit said, “We gave our pledge to Allah’s Messenger to hear and obey (our leaders), while active and otherwise, in times of ease and times of difficulty, even if we were deprived of our due shares, and to not dispute this matter (leadership) with its rightful people. The Prophet said,
(Except when you witness clear Kufr about which you have clear proof from Allah.)” This Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs. Another Hadith narrated by Anas states that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Hear and obey (your leaders), even if an Ethiopian slave whose head is like a raisin, is made your chief.) Al-Bukhari recorded this Hadith. Umm Al-Husayn said that she heard the Messenger of Allah giving a speech during the Farewell Hajj, in which he said;
(Even if a slave was appointed over you, and he rules you with Allah’s Book, then listen to him and obey him.) Muslim recorded this Hadith. In another narration with Muslim, the Prophet said,
(Even if an Ethiopian slave, whose nose was mutilated…) In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah. Whoever obeys my commander, obeys me, and whoever disobeys my commander, disobeys me.) This is why Allah said,
(Obey Allah), adhere to His Book,
(and obey the Messenger), adhere to his Sunnah,
(And those of you who are in authority) in the obedience to Allah which they command you, not what constitutes disobedience of Allah, for there is no obedience to anyone in disobedience to Allah, as we mentioned in the authentic Hadith,
(Obedience is only in righteousness.)
((And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger). Mujahid and several others among the Salaf said that the Ayah means, “(Refer) to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.” This is a command from Allah that whatever areas the people dispute about, whether major or minor areas of the religion, they are required to refer to the Qur’an and Sunnah for judgment concerning these disputes. In another Ayah, Allah said,
(And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allah). Therefore, whatever the Book and Sunnah decide and testify to the truth of, then it, is the plain truth. What is beyond truth, save falsehood This is why Allah said, u
(if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day.) meaning, refer the disputes and conflicts that arise between you to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger for judgment. Allah’s statement,
(if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. ) indicates that those who do not refer to the Book and Sunnah for judgment in their disputes, are not believers in Allah or the Last Day. Allah said,
(That is better) meaning, referring to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger for judgment in various disputes is better,
(and more suitable for final determination.) meaning, “Has a better end and destination,” as As-Suddi and several others have stated while Mujahid said, “Carries a better reward.”
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