Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of The Glorious Koran. An Explanatory Translation (1930)
An-Nisâ, “Women,” is so-called because it deals largely with women’s rights. The period of revelation is the months following the battle of Uḥud, or, as Nöldeke, a careful critic, puts it, “between the end of the third year and the end of the fifth year”1 of the Prophet’s reign at Al-Madînah. As the Sûrah contains no reference to the siege of Al-Madînah (“The War of the Trench”) by the allied tribes, which took place in the fifth year, I should rather say, between the end of the third year and the beginning of the fifth year.
Many Muslims were killed at the battle of Uḥud, hence the concern for orphans and widows in the opening verses which lead on to a declaration of some rights of women of which they were deprived among the pagan Arabs. The defection of the Hypocrites — as the lukewarm or purely time-serving adherents were called — had been the chief cause of the reverse at Uḥud; and after that reverse some of the Jewish tribes, who had till then observed the letter of their treaty with the Prophet, became avowed supporters of the enemy, even going so far as to declare that the old Arab idolatry was preferable to Al-Islâm as a religion, and giving help and information to Qureysh, so that in the end the Muslims were obliged to make war on them. Both the Hypocrites and the rebellious Jews are dealt with incidentally in this Sûrah, the former at some length. There is a reference to Christian beliefs in vv. 171–2.
The period of revelation is the fourth year of the Hijrah.
1. O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its
1 Nöldeke, Geschichte des Qoráns (2nd ed.), Part 1, p. 195.