Following our analysis of Chapters 2 and 3 as the first pair of chapter twins in Quran, we now proceed to Ch 4 and 5. Ch 4 (An-Nisa) and 5 (Al-Maidah) obviously come straight after Ch 2 and 3 and they follow these chapters in expounding on the system of peace and justice. They are however, less theoretical and metaphorical than Ch 2 and 3. They focus on the hard organisation work of the believers’ movement in search of the ideal conditions of human life.
Let us first focus on the similarities of Ch 4 and 5. They are less identical to each other than Ch 2 and 3 but still bear many similarities. There are two striking similarities between these two chapters, both to do with the word ‘hukm’ or governance.
The first similarity is two verses in each which contain the concept of ‘al-kitab bil haqq’. These are in Ch 4 Vs 105 and Ch 5 Vs 48. This phrase ‘al-kitab bil haqq’ refers to the current understanding of Truth which they are applying at the time. Both verses tell the Reader (the single individual to which Quran is addressed) to judge with ‘al-kitab bil haqq’. 4/105 emphasises what the Reader sees (bimaa araka Allah) and 5/48 emphasizes, among a few other ideas, not following the delusions of the people (walaa tattabi’u ahwaa’ahum). This first similarity shows the primacy of the Reader in acting a judge in the system of peace. His immediacy and incorruptibility is paramount.
The second similarity in the word ‘yuhakkimunaka’ (they make you a judge) which appears in 4/65 and 5/43. This shows once again the Reader’s role as judge in the system of peace. 4/65 tells us the behavioural indications for those who make him a judge and 5/43 tells us that he would not need to be made a judge if the people already had specific behavioural patterns.
These two similarities show the importance of judgement and governance within these two chapters. They also show us how these chapters place The Reader as the head of the system of peace. Let us now look at the differences between these chapters, thus helping us extract deeper wisdom from their content.
The first obvious difference is at the start of both chapters themselves. Ch 4 starts with the call to humankind instructing them to establish social justice and equality. Ch 5 on the other hand starts with a call to who have believed (in Ch 4’s philosophy, perhaps) and in this single verse call, tells them to fulfil their engagements. Perhaps this is a reminder to fulfil the social duties in the previous chapter.
The second outstanding difference is the unique calls present in each chapter. One of the ways Ch 4 is unique is because it contains a call to those who have received ‘al-kitab’ (4/47). Given the context of this call, it comes at the end of a project in which those who have believed in the goals of the chapter (4/1) have established a movement to achieve it. On the other hand, Ch 5 is unique because it contains two calls to the single messenger (5/41 and 5/67). These calls contain instruction for him to administrate the system and fulfil the mission entrusted to him.
From here, we can see the specific focus of each chapter. While Ch 4 deals partly with a situation in which a system already has been realised, Ch 5 deals with a situation from the messenger’s perspective. The messenger here acts as the leader of the community and Ch 5 shows the dynamics between the leader and the community itself.
A third difference between Ch 4 and 5 is also in terms of calls. Ch 4 begins and ends with calls to humankind. 4/1 starts by detailing the social project for them. By the end of the chapter (4/170, and 174), there are two more calls to humankind, telling them that they have already received proof and truth. This shows that the project for Ch 4 is from a popular perspective, that is for all citizens to consider. On the other hand, Ch 5 has two consecutive calls (5/15 and 19) to ‘ahl al-kitab’ (citizens of the system it propounds) , telling them about their leader who is the messenger and how they should respond to him. Ch 4 also has a call to ‘ahl al-kitab’ but the focus is on the prototype of messengers, *isa* (4/171). Coincidentally, this call is in the middle of the aforementioned two calls to humanity (4/170 and 174). This shows that the topics of Ch 4 and 5 cannot be dissociated but rather overlaps into one larger process.
These are but a few of the similarities and differences between Ch 4 and 5 of Quran. These two chapters are a tremendous read in themselves but when read as twins, they yield even deeper wisdom.