Reflection No. 171 on Q 4:75 – The Cry of the Oppressed

وَمَا لَكُمْ لَا تُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ الَّذِينَ
يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْ هَٰذِهِ الْقَرْيَةِ الظَّالِمِ أَهْلُهَا وَاجْعَلْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ وَلِيًّا وَاجْعَلْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ نَصِيرًا

Wamālakum lā tuqātilūna fī sabīlillāh wal-mustadh‘afīna minal-rijāli wan-nisā’i wal-wildānil-ladhīna yaqūlūna rabbanā akhrijnā min hādhihil-qaryatiz-zālimi ahluhā waj-‘al lanā min ladunka walliyan waj-‘al lanā min ladunka nasīrā
And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and the oppressed men and the women and the children, who say: Our Lord! Bring us out of this town, whose people are wrongdoers, and appoint for us a guardian from You, and appoint for us a helper from You.
(Sūratun Nisā’, No. 4, Āyat 75)

This verse asks believers why they do not come to the aid of the people who are oppressed and unable to defend themselves. They have become weak due to the aggression of others. The question seeks to stimulate the conscience, requiring people to think about the cries of the men, women and children who have cannot defend themselves.

According to Tafsīrs, the verse reveals the following important points:
1) The verse asks believers to fight in the way of Allah. Fighting in His way is not for personal gain, but to spread peace and justice. It is for the sake of God and for the benefit of human beings, causes that are connected and interlinked.
2) Living under oppression makes one weak and unable to live well and practice one’s values
3) Believers always turn to Allah for help. The oppressed who seek a way out beseech God for relief.
4) To combat oppression, the plea in this verse asks for a guardian and a helper. The guardian is the leader who will guide them out of their state and the helper will assist in doing so. Leadership comes first, then the workers who assist.
5) The verse is a reminder to people that they can be the helpers, a means of God answering the prayer of the oppressed.
6) Leadership must be divinely appointed and sanctioned. The words from You (min ladunka) are mentioned twice in this verse.

At a time when the calls of the oppressed reverberate in many parts of the world, believers must remind themselves of this verse and respond. We must struggle in different ways to answer their calls for help. Indifference and apathy cannot be accepted. Everyone can take some form of action to combat oppression and respond to the cries of the oppressed.

As we near the end of the holy month of Ramadan and prepare to celebrate Eid al-Fitr with our families and friends, let us pay heed to the cries of help. Through subdued celebrations, gatherings where prayers are said for the oppressed and action is taken to help them, through spreading of awareness and concern, Muslims must rally against oppression. That is the answer we must each give to the question Allah asks us in the verse above.

Āytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;
Aghā Muhsin Qarātī, Tafsiīe Nūr