What it Means? Men are the protectors and maintainers of women

Translation of surah An Nisa Ayah 21 to 40

(4:21) How can you take it away after each one has enjoyed the other, and they have taken a firm covenant from you?!

(4:22) Do not marry the women whom your fathers married, although what is past is past. This indeed was a shameful deed, a hateful thing, and an evil way.

(4:23) Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters,5 your sisters,° your father’s sisters and your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters and your sister’s daughters,2 your milk-mothers, your milk-sisters,38 the mothers of your wives, and the stepdaughters – who are your foster-children, “2 born of your wives with whom you have consummated the marriage, but if you have not consummated the marriage with them, there will be no blame upon you (if you marry their daughters).

It is also forbidden for you to take the wives of the sons who have sprung from your loins“! and to take two sisters together in marriage,“ although what is past is past. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.

(4:24) And also forbidden to you are all married women (muhsanat) except those women whom your right hands have come to possess (as a result of war). This is Allah’s decree is binding upon you. But it is lawful for you to seek out all women except these, offering them your wealth and the protection of wedlock rather than using them for the unfettered satisfaction of lust. And in exchange for what you enjoy by marrying them pay bridal due as an obligation. But there is no blame on you if you mutually agree to alter the settlement after it has been made. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

(4:25) And those of you who cannot afford to marry free, believing women (Muhsanat), then marry such believing women whom your right hands possess. Allah knows all about your faith. All of you belong to one another.4s Marry them, then, with the leave of their guardians, and give them their bridal-due in a fair manner that they may live in the protection of wedlock rather than be either mere objects of unfettered lust or given to secret love affairs. Then if they become guilty of immoral conduct after they have entered into wedlock, they shall be liable to half the penalty to which free women (Muhsanat) are liable.4° This relaxation is for those of you who fear to fall into sin by remaining unmarried. But if you persevere, it is better for you. Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.

(4:26) Allah wants to make all this clear to you and to guide you to the ways which the righteous have followed in the past. He will turn graciously towards you. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

(4:27) And Allah indeed wants to turn graciously towards you, but those who follow their lusts would want you to drift far away from the right way.

(4:28) Allah wants to lighten your burdens, for man was created weak.

(4:29) Believers! Do not devour one another’s possessions wrongfully; rather than that, let there be trading by mutual consent. You shall not kill yourselves. Surely Allah is ever Compassionate to you.

(4:30) And whoever does this by way of transgression and injustice him shall We surely cast into the Fire; that indeed is quite easy for Allah.

(4:31) But if you avoid the major sins which you have been forbidden, We shall remit your (trivial) offenses, and cause you to enter an honorable abode.

(4:32) Do not covet what Allah has conferred more abundantly on some of you than others. Men shall have a share according to what they have earned, and women shall have a share according to what they have earned. Do ask of Allah His bounty. Allah has full knowledge of everything.

(4:33) And to everyone We have appointed heirs to what the parents and near of kin might leave behind. As to those with whom you have made a solemn covenant, give them their share. Allah watches over all things.

(4:34) Men are the protectors and maintainers of women® because Allah has made one of them excel over the other,2 and because they spend out of their possessions (to support them). Thus righteous women are obedient and guard the rights of men in their absence under Allah’s protection’s As for women of whom you fear rebellion, admonish them, and remain apart from them in beds, and beat them.” Then if they obey you, do not seek ways to harm them. Allah is Exalted, Great.

(4:35) If you fear a breach between the two, appoint an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both want to set things right, Allah will bring about reconciliation between them. Allah knows all, is well aware of everything.

(4:36) Serve Allah and ascribe no partner to Him. Do good to your parents, to near of kin, to orphans, and to the needy, and to the neighbor who is of kin and to the neighbor who is a stranger, and to the companion by your side,“ and to the wayfarer,

and to those whom your right hands possess. Allah does not love the arrogant and the boastful,

(4:37) who are niggardly and bid others to be niggardly and conceal the bounty which Allah has bestowed upon them. We have kept in readiness a humiliating chastisement for such deniers (of Allah’s bounty).

 (4:38) Allah does not love those who spend out of their wealth to make a show of it to people when they believe neither in Allah nor in the Last Day. And he who has taken

Satan for a companion has indeed taken for himself a very bad companion. (4:39) What harm would have befallen them if they had believed in Allah and the Last Day, and spent on charity what Allah had bestowed upon them as sustenance? For Allah indeed has full knowledge of them.

(4:40) Indeed Allah wrongs none, not even as much as an atom’s weight. Whenever a man does good, He multiplies it two-fold, and bestows out of His grace a mighty reward.

Translation with Commentary :

(4:21) How can you take it away after each one has enjoyed the other, and they have taken a firm covenant from you?!

31. The ‘firm covenant’ in this verse refers to marriage. For marriage is a firm covenant of fidelity. It is only because a woman has faith in the firmness of this covenant that she entrusts herself to a man. If a man decides of his own will to break it, he has no right to withdraw the amount he offered his wife by bridal due of bridal-due at the time of entering into that covenant. (See Towards Understanding the Qur’an, vol. I,( Surah 2, n. 251)

(4:22) Do not marry the women whom your fathers married, although what is past is past.%2 This indeed was a shameful deed, a hateful thing, and an evil way.%3

32. The Qur’an rounds off all statements prohibiting the objectionable features of the social life of the Jahiliyah period by condoning violations of those prohibitions prior to their revelation: ‘What is past is past.’ This has two meanings. First, that those concerned would not be punished for mistakes committed in their state of Ignorance, providing they rectified their conduct after the prohibitory injunction had been revealed. Second, that the prohibition of any ancient custom, usage and law did not mean that all acts which took place in the past would be nullified, and that all the consequences of those acts would be deemed void, and people absolved of all the obligations which ensued from them. If marriage with the step-mother, for instance, was prohibited it did not necessarily follow that the children of all such marriages which had been contracted in the past were to be reckoned illegitimate, and that the offspring from such marriages would be disinherited.

Similarly, if a certain transaction was declared unlawful it did not mean that all such transactions which had taken place prior to the prohibition should be deemed void and that all the earnings of people accumulated through those transactions would be either seized or declared illegitimate property.

33. In Islamic law marrying women who fall in the prohibited degrees of relations is a recognized offence. According to traditions in the Hadith collections of Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i and Ahmad b. Hanbal, people guilty of this offence were punished by the Prophet (peace be on him) with death and confiscation of property. It appears from the tradition related by Ibn ‘Abbas (found in the collection of Ibn Majah), that the Prophet (peace be on him) had devised the following general rule: ‘Kill whosoever commits sexual intercourse with a woman forbidden to him’ (Ibn Majah; ‘Hudud’, 13, 35; also Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, p. 300 – Ed.) There is some disagreement, however, among jurists on this question. Ahmad b. Hanbal is of the opinion that the convicted person should be put to death and his property confiscated. Abu Hanifah, Malik and Shafi’i are of the opinion that if a person commits sexual intercourse with a woman within the prohibited degrees he should be punished for adultery; and if he merely marries (but has not actually had sexual intercourse – Ed.) he should be subjected to severe punishment.

(4:23) Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters,5 your sisters,° your father’s sisters and your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters and your sister’s daughters,2 your milk-mothers, your milk-sisters,38 the mothers of your wives,22 and the stepdaughters – who are your foster-children, “2 born of your wives with whom you have consummated the marriage, but if you have not consummated the marriage with them, there will be no blame upon you (if you marry their daughters). It is also forbidden for you to take the wives of the sons who have sprung from your loins“! and to take two sisters together in marriage,“ although what is past is past. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.

34. The word ‘mother’ applies to one’s step-mother as well as to one’s real mother. Hence the prohibition extends to both. This injunction also includes prohibition of the grandmother, both paternal and maternal. There is disagreement on whether a woman with whom a father has had an unlawful sexual relationship is prohibited to his son or not. There are some among the early authorities who do not believe in such prohibition. But there are others who go so far as to say that a woman whom a father has touched with sexual desire becomes prohibited to the son. Likewise, there is disagreement among the scholars of the early period of Islam in regard to a woman with whom a person has had an illegitimate sexual relationship whether she is prohibited to his father or not. In the same way there has been disagreement in regard to a man with whom a mother or daughter has had an illegitimate sexual relationship, whether or not marriage with him is prohibited for both the mother and daughter. (See Jassas, vol. 2, pp. 113 ff., and Bidayat al-Mujtahid, vol. 2, pp. 33 f. – Ed.) There is a great deal of formal, legal discussion on this point. But even a little reflection makes it evident that if a man marries a woman who is at once the object of the desire of either his father or his son, and if a man marries a woman and is attracted to either her mother or daughter, this militates against the requirements of a righteous society. The spirit of the Law is opposed to the legal hair-splitting which makes a distinction between sexual relations that take place either within the marital framework or outside it, and between either touching or looking with desire and so on. The plain fact is that if the sexual passions of both the father and the son are focused on the same woman, or conversely, if the sexual passions of both the mother and daughter are focused on the same man, this situation is full of evil and mischief for family life and the Law can never tolerate it. The Prophet (peace be on him) has said: ‘Whoever looks at the genitals of a woman, both the mother and daughter of that woman become prohibited for him.’ In another tradition, the Prophet (peace-be on him) said: ‘God will not even care to look at the person who casts his look at the genitals of a woman as well as those of her daughter.’ (Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur’an, vol. IV, p. 141.) These traditions bring out the intent of the Law very clearly.

35. The injunction with regard to daughters applies to grand-daughters on both the paternal and maternal sides as well. There is disagreement, however, whether a daughter born of an illegitimate relationship becomes prohibited or not. According to Abu Hanifah, Malik and Ahmad b. Hanbal such a daughter is prohibited in the same way as a daughter born in wedlock; Shafi’i, however, is of the opinion that such daughters are not prohibited. The very idea, however, of marrying a girl who was born of one’s own semen would be repulsive to any decent person.

36. This applies to full sisters as well as to half-sisters.

37. In all these relationships, no distinction is made between the full and step-relationships. The sister of a man’s father or mother, whether full sister or step-sister, is prohibited to him.

Likewise, the daughters of a man’s brothers and sisters are prohibited just as if they were one’s own daughters. (See Bidayat al-Mujtahid, vol. 2, pp. 31 ff. – Ed.)

38. There is consensus among Muslims that if a boy or girl is breastfed by a woman, that woman attains the status of the mother, and her husband the status of father. It is forbidden to marry relatives through milk where the degree of relationship is such as /to constitute a bar

to marriage in the case of blood-relations. The basis of this rule is the saying of the Prophet (peace be on him): ‘Whatever is rendered prohibited by descent (nasab) is likewise rendered prohibited by breast-feeding.’ (Bukhari, ‘Shahadat’, 4, 7,13,14; Muslim, ‘Rida’ah’, 1-14,26-30; etc. – Ed.) According to Abu Hanifah and Malik prohibition is established if a child suckles milk from a woman’s breast equal to that minimum quantity which nullifies fasting. But according to Ahmad b. Hanbal, it is established by three sucklings; and according to Shafi’i by five. There is also disagreement about the maximum age up to which breast-feeding leads to prohibition of marriage with the woman concerned. In this connection, jurists have expressed the following opinions:

(1) Suckling is of legal significance only when it occurs before a child has been weaned, and when milk is its main source of nourishment. If a child suckles from a woman’s breast after having been weaned, this is legally no different from drinking anything else. This is the opinion of Umm Salamah and Ibn ‘Abbas, and a tradition to this effect has also been reported from ‘Ali. This is also the view of al-Zuhri, Hasan al-Basri, Qatadah, ‘Ikrimah and Awza’i.

(2) Prohibition is established by breastfeeding during the first two years of a child’s life. This is the view of ‘Umar, Ibn Mas’ud, Abu Hurayrah and ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar. Among jurists, Shafi’1, Ahmad b. Hanbal, Abu Yusuf, Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Shaybani and Sufyan al-Thawri followed this view; and according to a report, so did Abu Hanifah. Malik largely followed this view, but he was of the opinion that if breastfeeding took place a month or two after the age of two, the prohibition would still remain in effect.

(3) The generally-reported opinion of Abu Hanifah and Zufar is that a bar to marriage is created by breastfeeding up to an age limit of two and a half years.

(4) Some other jurists are of the opinion that the prohibition comes into effect irrespective of the age breastfeeding breast-feeding takes place. This opinion is based on the view that the effective cause of the prohibition is a woman’s milk, rather than the age of the person fed. Hence, even in the case of an older person, the same prohibition would apply as in the case of an infant. This is the view of ‘A’ishah and this has been supported on the basis of a tradition from ‘Ali, which is presumably .authentic. Among the jurists this opinion has been followed by ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr, ‘Ata’, Layth b. Sa’d and Ibn Hazm. (On this subject see Jassas, vol. 2, pp. 124 ff.; and Ibn Rushd, Biddyat al-Mujtahid, vol. 2,’pp’. 35 ff. -Ed.)

39. There is disagreement about prohibition in respect of the mother of the woman with whom one has merely contracted marriage (without having consummated it). Abu Hanifah, Malik, Ahmad b. Hanbal and Shafi’i believe that such a relationship is prohibited. ‘Ali, however, holds the opinion that unless the marriage has been consummated the mother of one’s wife does not become prohibited.

40. The prohibitive restriction in regard to such girls is not based on the consideration of their having been brought up in the house of a step-father. The reference to the child’s upbringing in his house points to the delicacy of this relationship. The jurists are almost unanimous that it is prohibited to marry one’s step-daughter irrespective of whether or not she has been raised in the step-father’s house.

41. This restriction has been added because the widow of one’s adopted son is, according to Islam, not prohibited. It is only the wife of one’s own son who is prohibited. Likewise, the wives of grandsons (paternal and maternal) are prohibited to grandfathers (on both the mother’s and father’s side).

42. The Prophet (peace be on him) has taught that it is prohibited for a man to combine in marriage an aunt – whether maternal or paternal – with her niece. The guiding principle is that it is prohibited to have as wives two women who, if one were male, would be prohibited to each other. (See Bidayat al-Mujtahid, vol. 2, p. 41 – Ed.)

43. This is an assurance that God would not call them to task for such misdeeds of the Jahiliyah period as combining two sisters in matrimony provided they abstained from doing so in the future. See also(_n. 32 above.) For this reason, a man with two sisters as his wives is required to divorce one of them when he embraces Islam.

(4:24) And also forbidden to you are all married women (muhsanat) except those women whom your right hands have come to possess (as a result of war).“4 This is Allah’s decree and is binding upon you. But it is lawful for you to seek out all women except these, offering them your wealth and the protection of wedlock rather than using them for the unfettered satisfaction of lust. And in exchange for what you enjoy by marrying them pay bridal due as an obligation. But there is no blame on you if you mutually agree to alter the settlement after it has been made. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

44. Women who come as captives of war, leaving their husbands behind in Dar al-Harb (Domain of War), are not prohibited, for their marriage is nullified by virtue of their entry into Dar al-Islam (Domain of Islam). A man may marry such women and, if they happen to be slave girls slave-girls, he may have sexual relations with them. There is disagreement, however, among jurists as to what should be done if both husband and wife have been taken captive together. Abu Hanifah and the jurists of his school are of the opinion that their marriage should remain intact. Malik and Shafi’i, on the other hand, argue that their matrimonial contract should be rendered void. 3 Many misunderstandings seem to persist about the right to have sexual relations with one’s slave-girls. It is pertinent to call attention to the following regulations of Islam:

(1) Islam does not permit soldiers of the Islamic army to have sexual relations with women they capture in war. Islamic Law requires that such women should first be handed over to the government, which then has the right to decide what should be done with them. It may either set them free unconditionally, release them on payment of ransom, exchange them for Muslim prisoners of war held by the enemy or distribute them among the soldiers. A soldier may have sexual relations only with that woman who has been entrusted to him by the government.

(2) Even then, he may not have sexual relations with her until at least one menstrual period has expired; this is in order to establish that she is not already pregnant. If the woman concerned is pregnant one may not have sexual relations with her until after the birth of her child.

(3) It is not necessary for female captives of war to be People of the Book in order that sexual relations with them be permitted. The man to whom such a woman is entrusted has the right to have sexual relations with her regardless of her religious affiliations.

(4) Only that person to whom a female captive has been entrusted has the right to have sexual relations with her. Any child born to her will be regarded as the legitimate child of her master and will be entitled to all the rights laid down by the Law for one’s issue.

Moreover, once such a woman has given birth to a child she may not be sold to anyone, and on the death of her master, she automatically becomes a free person.

(5) If the master allows the woman to marry someone else he ceases to have the right to sexual relations with her but retains the right to have her serve him in other ways.

(6) Although the Law has fixed the maximum number of wives at four, it has set no limit with to regard slave girls. The Law does not lay down a limit in order to encourage people to accumulate huge of armies slave girls and thereby turn their homes into dens of sexual enjoyment. Rather the Law does not define the limit because the effects of war and the total number of female captives that would have to be disposed of after a certain war are unpredictable.

(7) In the same way as other rights of property are transferable, so are the proprietary rights regarding the captives of war that have been legally entrusted to a man by the state.

(8) Since the regular conferment of property rights is as legal an act as that of marriage, there is no basis for a person who feels no revulsion towards the idea of marriage to feel revulsion towards the idea of having sexual relations with a slave girl duly entrusted to him.

(9) If a government confers proprietary rights to a man over a female captive of war it forfeits the right to withdraw those rights in the same way as the guardian (wali) of a woman ceases to have the right to withdraw his agreement to the marriage proposal after the marriage has been contracted.

(10) If a military commander permitted his soldiers to temporarily use the female captives as objects of sexual desire and distributed them among the soldiers for that purpose, such an act would be considered unlawful by Islamic Law. Such an act is not essentially different from fornication or adultery. For details see my book Tafhimat, vol. 2, pp. 366-84, and Rasai’il wa Masa’il, 6th edition, Lahore, 1976, vol. 3, pp. 102-4.

(4:25) And those of you who cannot afford to marry free, believing women (muhsanat), then marry such believing women whom your right hands possess. Allah knows all about your faith. All of you belong to one another.4s Marry them, then, with the leave of their guardians, and give them their bridal-due in a fair manner that they may live in the protection of wedlock rather than be either mere objects of unfettered lust or given to secret love affairs. Then if they become guilty of immoral conduct after they have entered into wedlock, they shall be liable to half the penalty to which free women (muhsanat) are liable.4° This relaxation is for those of you who fear to fall into sin by remaining unmarried. But if you persevere, it is better for you. Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.

45. The difference between the status of people is relative. All Muslims are alike. If there is any true distinction its basis is a person’s faith and faith is not an exclusive privilege of the rich or so-called upper classes of the society. So it is possible for a slave-girl to be superior, in respect of her faith and morals, to a woman belonging to the elite of a society.

46.A superficial reading of this verse can lead to the mistaken conclusion, as Khawarij and others have done, that stoning is not the prescribed punishment for adultery. Such people ask: If stoning is the prescribed punishment for extra-marital sexual intercourse, then how is it possible to halve that punishment with regard to slave-girls? Such people have not noted carefully the wording of this verse. In this section see (verses 24-5) the term muhsanat (protected women) is used in two different meanings. First, it is used in the sense of ‘married women’, that is, those who enjoy the protection of their husbands. Second, it is used in the sense of ‘women belonging to families’, i.e. those who enjoy the protection of families even though they may not be married. In the verse under discussion, the word muhsanat is used in the latter sense, i.e. in the sense of women who enjoy the protection of families as opposed to slave-girls. At the same time, the word is also used in the first meaning, when slave-girls have acquired the protection accorded by the contract of marriage (fa idha uhsinna), they will be liable to the punishment laid down in this verse if they have unlawful Sexual intercourse.

It is therefore apparent that a free woman enjoys two kinds of protection. One is the protection of her family through which she remains protected even when she is not married.

The second is the protection of her husband, which reinforces the protection of the family that she already enjoys. As long as the slave girl remains a slave, she does not enjoy the protection of the family. However, when she is married she has the protection of her husband – and of her husband alone. This protection is partial. Even after marriage she is neither liberated from the bond of her master nor does she attain the status enjoyed by free women. The punishment prescribed for a married slave girl is accordingly half the punishment of an unmarried free woman rather than half that of a married free woman.

This also explains that the punishment for unlawful sexual intercourse (Zina) laid down in (Surah al-Nur 24: 2 )refers to the offense committed by unmarried free women alone, and it is in comparison with their punishment that the punishment of married slave women has been laid down as half. As for free married women, they deserve more severe punishment than the unmarried free women (muhsanat) for they violate the double protection. Even though the Qur’an does not specifically mention punishment by stoning it does allude to it in a subtle manner.

47. That is, if a man cannot afford to marry a free woman then he should marry a slave-girl with the permission of her master.

(4:26) Allah wants to make all this clear to you and to guide you to the ways which the righteous have followed in the past. He will turn graciously towards you. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. 48

48. Here a general reference is made to the directives embodied in this surah, as well as those revealed earlier in Surah al-Bagqarah and which deal with social and collective matters.

It is stressed that these directives reveal those lasting principles observed by the Prophets and their followers from the earliest times. It is merely out of His grace and benevolence that God liberated them from their state of Ignorance (Jahiliyah) and opened to them the way of life of the righteous.

(4:27) And Allah indeed wants to turn graciously towards you, but those who follow their lusts would want you to drift far away from the right way.

49. This refers to the hypocrites, the ultra-conservatives and the Jews who lived on the outskirts of Madina. Both the hypocrites and the conservatives were incensed at the reforms introduced by Islam, as these were diametrically opposed to the age-old customs and traditions of their society and culture. The reforms were numerous: a share of the inheritance was assigned to daughters; widows were liberated from bondage to the will of their husbands’ families and were granted the freedom to marry whomever they wished after the expiry of the waiting period (‘iddah); marriage with one’s step-mother and with two sisters together was prohibited; adopted sons were disinherited; and a foster-father’s marriage with either the divorced or widowed wife of his adopted son was declared lawful.

These and other such reforms were so totally opposed to the customary laws of the Arabs that it was impossible for the elders and the blind devotees of the ways of their forefathers not to protest against them vehemently. They have long continued to grumble against these injunctions. Mischievous people pointed to these innovations and exploited them by provoking people against the Prophet’s movement of reform. For instance, they would meet those born as a result of the marriage which had been prohibited by Islam and try to infuriate them by saying that according to the new-fangled teachings of Muhammad (peace be on him) the relationship between their parents was unlawful.

The Jews, on the other hand, had woven a complex network of laws and regulations for themselves. The result was that they had forbidden a great number of thin thatch were, in fact, lawful. Additionally, they had introduced a number of superstitions into God’s Law. It was argued that the simple and straightforward law of the Qur’an was out of tune with the tastes and temperaments of both the religious leaders and the ordinary people. The Qur’anic injunctions simply infuriated them and as soon as they came to know of any Qur’anic law, they vehemently denounced it. They expected the Qur’an to endorse and validate all the legal deductions and all the superstitions and myths of their forefathers, and to treat them as an integral part of the law of God. If the Qur’an would not do so then they would refrain from recognizing it as the Book of God.

Let us take the following as an example. According to Jewish usage, a woman was considered completely unclean during her menstrual period. Hence, they neither ate the food she cooked, drank from the cup of water she offered nor even sat with her. It was even considered unwholesome to be touched by her. Thus for a few days every month a woman virtually became an untouchable in her own house. Owing o the influence of the Jews the same custom had found its way into the Arab families of Madina. When the Prophet (peace be on him) arrived in Madina, he was asked about this matter. In response to this query (verse 222 of Surah al-Bagarah) was revealed. In the light of the principle embodied in the verse the Prophet (peace be on him) made it clear that it was unlawful to have sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period; but it was only that relationship, and no other, that was unlawful. (See Bukhari, ‘Hayd’, 2, 3; Nasa’i, ‘Hayd’, 9, 13, 16, 19, and ‘Ahkam’, 13 – Ed.) This caused uproar among the Jews. They claimed that Muhammad (peace be on him) was bent upon reversing all their legal injunctions to the extent that he wanted to legalize whatever they held as prohibited and prohibit whatever they held as lawful.

(4:28) Allah wants to lighten your burdens, for man was created weak.(4:29) Believers! Do not devour one another’s possessions wrongfully; rather than that, let there be trading by mutual consent. You shall not kill yourselves.=! Surely Allah is ever Compassionate to you.

50. The expression ‘wrongfully’ embraces all transactions which are opposed to righteousness and which are either legally or morally reprehensible. By contrast, ‘trade’ signifies the mutual transfer of benefits between the parties concerned, such as that underlying those transactions in which one person provides whatever satisfies the needs of another person and is paid in return. ‘Mutual consent’ means that the exchange should be free of undue pressure, fraud and deception. Although bribery and interest apparently represent transactions based on mutual consent, closer examination reveals that such consent takes place by constraint and under pressure. In games of chance, too, the participants seem to consent freely to the outcome. This kind of consent, however, is due to the expectation entertained by the participants that they will win. No one takes part anticipating loss. Fraudulent transactions also seem to be based on the mutual consent of the parties concerned. That kind of consent, however, is based on the false assumption that no fraud is involved in the transaction. Nobody who knew that he would be subjected to fraud would consent to be a party to that transaction.

51. This can be considered either as complementary to the preceding sentence or as an independent statement. If it is complementary, it means that to consume the property of others by wrongful means is tantamount to courting one’s own destruction; for such practices corrupt society on such a scale that even the most cunning are not spared their destructive consequences. This is in addition to the severe punishment that is bound to be meted out to such people in the Next Life. Taken as an independent statement, it can mean either that one should not kill others or that one should not kill oneself. Both the words used and the sequence in which they have been placed by God in this verse make each of these three meanings feasible.

52. God wishes His creatures well; their well-being and salvation please Him, and it is out of benevolence that He has forbidden things harmful to human beings.

(4:30) And whoever does this by way of transgression and injustice him shall We surely cast into the Fire; that indeed is quite easy for Allah.

(4:31) But if you avoid the major sins which you have been forbidden, We shall remit your (trivial) offenses, and cause you to enter an honorable abode.

53. God is not overly exacting and severe in His judgments. He is not on the lookout for trivial omissions and lapses on the part of His creatures in order to punish them. God is prepared to condone minor omissions, and may even spare a man from being presented with a charge-sheet provided his record is free of major sins. But if a man’s record is full of major transgressions, he will be required to explain all the sins he has committed – both major and minor.

We need at this stage to grasp the essential differences between major and minor sins. After reflecting on this question, in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah, it seems to me – and God alone knows what is absolutely correct – that three elements turn an act into a major sin:

(1) Violation of rights – be it either the rights of God, of parents, of other human beings or even of one’s own self. The greater a person’s rights, the greater is the sin in violating them.

Hence sin is characterized in the Qur’an as wrong-doing (zulm). It is for the same reason that associating others with God in His divinity is called the ‘great wrong’ in the Qur’an. See, for example, (Surah Luqman 31: 13 – Ed.)

(2) Insufficient fear of God, and arrogance and indifference towards Him, as a result of which man does not heed God’s commandments, even willfully violates them, and deliberately desists from carrying them out. The greater the brazenness, temerity and fearlessness with which one disobeys God, the more heinous is the sin in His eyes. It is for this reason that sin is also termed ma’siyah (disobedience) and fisq. See, for instance, (Surah al-Baqarah 2: 26, 61); (Surah al-Hujurat 49: 11); (Surah al-Munafiqun 63: 6); (Surah Hud 11:

59); (Surah Al ‘Imran 3: 112); (Surah al-Nisa’ 4: 42); (Surah al-Ma’idah 5: 78); and passim for verbal forms derived from the word ma’siyah and fisq – Ed.)

(3) Sin is aggravated by breaking those bonds and relationships on which the peace and tranquility of social order rest. These bonds include the relationship between a man and his Lord, as well as that between a man and his fellow beings. The more important a bond is, the greater is the harm is done to the peace of human society when that bond is broken.

Likewise, the stronger the expectation that the sanctity of a certain bond will be honored, the greater is the sin incurred through its desecration. Let us take the case of unlawful sexual intercourse in its various degrees. This act is inimical to the existence of a sound social order and is, therefore, a major sin. But in certain cases the sin becomes even graver. For instance, it is more serious if committed by a married person than by one who is unmarried. Similarly, unlawful sexual intercourse with a married woman is graver than with an unmarried woman. Again, to commit this act with one’s neighbors is more heinous than with others, and to commit this act with women within the prohibited degrees, such as one’s sister, daughter or mother, is far more abominable than with others. Further still, it is a more graver sin to commit such an act in places of worship than elsewhere. The difference in the degree of such sinfulness is based on the considerations we have mentioned above.

Wherever the sanctity “of a relationship is normally respected, wherever there is a bond which deserves to be held sacred, and wherever the disruption of a particular relationship is likely to result in greater harm and corruption, the gravity of the sin increases. This is why in certain places the Qur’an uses the term fujur to denote sin. See, for instance, (Surah al- Qiyamah 75: 5); (Surah al-Infitar 82: 14); (Surah al-Shams 91: 8 – Ed.)

(4:32) Do not covet what Allah has conferred more abundantly on some of you than others. Men shall have a share according to what they have earned, and women shall have a share according to what they have earned. Do ask of Allah His bounty. Allah has full knowledge of everything.

54. This verse embodies a very important directive. By heeding it, man would be able to achieve a great measure of peace and tranquility. God has not created all men alike. Some are handsome while others are ugly. The voices of some are sweet and those of others repulsive. Some are physically strong others are weak. Some have sound limbs others have inherent deformities. Some possess outstanding physical and mental abilities while others lack them. Some are born in favorable circumstances and others are not. Some have been endowed with more resources than others. It is this diversity that gives variety to human civilization and hence serves a useful purpose. Whenever man superimposes distinctions of his own over and above this natural inequality he disrupts the natural order of things, and paves the way for corruption. Likewise, when anyone attempts to obliterate all differences between human beings he in fact engages in a war against nature and inflicts wrongs of another kind. Man is naturally inclined to feel uneasy whenever he sees someone else ahead of him. This is the root of jealousy and envy, of cut-throat competition and animosity, of mutual strife and conflict. These feelings often obsess a person to such a degree that whenever fair means do not prove effective, he resorts to unfair means to achieve his ambitions. In the present verse, God directs us not to allow this kind of mentality to take hold of us. The import of the directive is that one should not yearn for the good that God has bestowed on others. One should rather pray to God to bestow upon one the good which is in one’s best interests according to God’s wisdom and knowledge.

The statement that ‘men shall have a share according to what they have earned and women shall have a share according to what they have earned’ seems to mean, to the best of my understanding, that men and women shall have their shares of good and evil, depending on the good and evil they have earned in using the resources bestowed upon them by God.

(4:33) And to everyone We have appointed a heirs to what the parents and near of kin might leave behind. As to those with whom you have made a solemn covenant, give them their share. Allah watches over all things.

55. According to Arab customary law, those who concluded compacts of alliance and friendship also became mutual heirs. Likewise, an adopted son inherited from his foster- father. While abrogating this customary law, this verse reveals that inheritance goes to one’s kin according to the rules for the distribution of inheritance laid down by God Himself.

However, if a man has made commitments to people, he has the right to give away to them whatever he wishes during his lifetime.

(4:34) Men are the protectors and maintainers of women® because Allah has made one of them excel over the other,2 and because they spend out of their possessions (to support them). Thus righteous women are obedient and guard the rights of men in their absence under Allah’s protection’s As for women of whom you fear rebellion, admonish them, and remain apart from them in beds, and beat them.” Then if they obey you, do not seek ways to harm them. Allah is Exalted, Great.

56. A qawwam or qayyim is a person responsible for administering and supervising the affairs of either an individual or an organization, for protecting and safeguarding them and taking care of their needs.

57. The verb used here – a derivative of the root FDL – is not used to mean that some people have been invested with superior honor and dignity. Rather it means that God has endowed one of the sexes (i.e. the male sex) with certain qualities which He has not endowed the other sex with, at least not to an equal extent. Thus it is the male who is qualified to function as the head of the family. The female has been so constituted that she should live under his care and protection.

58. It is reported in a tradition from the Prophet (peace be on him) that he said: “The best wife is she who, if you look at her, will please you; who, if you bid her to do something, will obey; and who will safeguard herself and your property in your absence.’ (Cited by Ibn Kathir, and reported by Tabari and Ibn Abi Hatim. See Mukhtasar Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3 vols., ed. Muhammad ‘All al-Sabuni, 7th edition, Beirut, 1402 A.H./1981 C.E.; vol. 1, p. 385 and n.

1 – Ed.) This tradition contains the best explanation of the above verse. It should be borne in mind, however, that obedience to God has priority over a woman’s duty to obey her husband. If a woman’s husband either asks her to disobey God or prevents her from performing a duty imposed upon her by God, she should refuse to carry out his command.

Obedience to her husband in this case would be a sin. However, were the husband to prevent is wife from performing either supererogatory Prayer or Fasting – as distinct from the obligatory ones – she should obey him, for such acts would not be accepted by God if performed by a woman in defiance of her husband’s wish. (See Abu Da’ud, ‘Sawm’, 73; Ibn Majah, ‘Siyam’, 53 – Ed.)

59. This does not mean that a man should resort to these three measures all at once, but that they may be employed if a wife adopts an attitude of obstinate defiance. So far as the actual application of these measures is concerned, there should, naturally, be some correspondence between the fault and the punishment that is administered. Moreover, it is obvious that wherever a light touch can prove effective.one should not resort to sterner measures.

Whenever the Prophet (peace be on him) permitted a man to administer corporal punishment to his wife, he did so with reluctance, and continued to express his distaste for it. And even in cases where it is necessary, the Prophet (peace be on him) directed men not to hit across the face, nor to beat severely nor to use anything that might leave marks on the body. (See Ibn Majah, ‘Nikah’, 3 – Ed.)

(4:35) If you fear a breach between the two, appoint an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both want to set things right, Allah will bring about reconciliation between them. Allah knows all, is well aware of everything.

60. The statement: ‘if they both want to set things right’, may be interpreted as referring either to the mediators or to the spouses concerned. Every dispute can be resolved providing the parties concerned desire reconciliation, and the mediators too are keen to remove the misunderstandings between them and to bring them together.

61. Whenever the relationship between a husband and a wife starts to break down, an attempt should first be made to resolve the dispute at the family level, before it is aggravated and leads to the disruption of the matrimonial tie. The procedure to be followed is that two persons, one on behalf of each family, should be nominated to look into the matter together and devise means whereby the misunderstanding between the spouses may be brought to an end. Who should nominate these mediators? God has not specified this so as to allow people full freedom to choose the most convenient arrangement. The parties would be free, for instance, to decide that the mediators be nominated either by the spouses themselves or by the elders of their respective families. If the dispute is brought before the court, the latter also has the right to nominate mediators, representing the families of both parties, before referring the matter for the judicial verdict.

There is disagreement among Muslim jurists about the extent of the mediators’ authority. The Hanafi and Shafi’i schools are of the opinion that they normally have no authority to issue a binding verdict. All they may do is to recommend the solution they advocate, where after the spouses have the right either to accept or to reject it. The exception is if the spouses have nominated the mediators to act on their behalf in regard to either talaq or khul’: they will then be bound by their verdict. This is the opinion of the Hanafi and Shafi’i schools.

Another group of jurists argues that the authority of the mediators is confined to deciding how the spouses should reconcile their differences, and does not extend to the annulment of marriage. This is the opinion of Hasan al-Basri and Qatadah, among others. Yet another eroup holds the opinion that the mediators have full authority both in respect of reconciliation and annulment of marriage. This is the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas, Sa’id b. Jubayr, Ibrahim al-Nakha’i, al-Sha’bi, Muhammad b. Sinn and several other authorities. The precedents which have come down from early Islam, however, are the judgments of ‘Uthman and ‘Ali. These indicate that they conferred upon the mediators the authority to issue judgements binding on both parties. When the dispute between ‘Aqil b. Abi Talib and his wife Fatimah b. ‘Utbah b. Rabi’ah came up for the judgement of ‘Uthman, he nominated Ibn ‘Abbas and Mu’awiyah b. Abi Sufyan from the families of the husband and the wife respectively. He also told them that if they thought that separation was preferable, they should declare the marriage annulled. In a similar dispute ‘Ali nominated mediators and authorized them either to bring about reconciliation or annul the marriage, whichever they considered appropriate. This shows that the mediators do not have judicial authority as such. (See the commentaries of Ibn Kathir and Jassas on this verse -Ed.) Such authority, however, may be conferred upon them by the courts, in which case their decision will have the force of a judicial verdict.

(4:36) Serve Allah and ascribe no partner to Him. Do good to your parents, to near of kin, to orphans, and to the needy, and to the neighbor who is of kin and to the neighbor who is a stranger, and to the companion by your side,“ and to the wayfarer, and to those whom your right hands possess. Allah does not love the arrogant and the boastful,

62. The expression al-sahib bi al-jamb (the companion by your side) embraces those with whom one has friendly relations of an abiding nature as well as those with whom one’s the relationship is transient: for instance, either the person who walks beside one on the way to the market or who sits beside one while buying things from the same shop or one’s fellow traveler. Even this temporary relationship imposes certain claims on every refined and decent person – that he should treat him, as far as possible, in a kind and gracious manner and avoid causing him any inconvenience.

(4:37) who are niggardly and bid others to be niggardly and conceal the bounty which Allah has bestowed upon them. We have kept in readiness a humiliating chastisement for such deniers (of Allah’s bounty).

63. Concealing God’s bounty is to live, as if God had not bestowed that bounty. If anyone has considerable wealth and yet lives at a standard strikingly lower than that warranted by his income, if he shuns spending on himself and his family, and also on helping other creatures of God, and avoids providing financial support to any philanthropic cause, then he creates the false impression of being in a state of financial stringency. This is sheer ingratitude to God. The Prophet (peace be on him) is reported, according to a tradition, as saying: ‘If God confers a bounty on somebody, He would like to see that benefaction displayed.’ (Ibn Kathir, vol. 4, p. 486 – Ed.) This means that a person’s day-to-day life, his eating and drinking, his dress and his abode and his spending on others, all these should reflect God’s bounty.

(4:38) Allah does not love those who spend out of their wealth to make a show of it to people when they believe neither in Allah nor in the Last Day. And he who has taken Satan for a companion has indeed taken for himself a very bad companion.

(4:39) What harm would have befallen them if they had believed in Allah and the Last Day, and spent on charity what Allah had bestowed upon them as sustenance? For Allah indeed has full knowledge of them.

(4:40) Indeed Allah wrongs none, not even as much as an atom’s weight. Whenever a man does good, He multiplies it two-fold, and bestows out of His grace a mighty reward.

Published
Categorized as quran

By Tariq Saleem

I am a student of Quran and keen to make dawah for inviting peoples to save there selves from hellfire. This life is very short then the eternal life after death every body has to think about it and do some research to walk on a true path.

1 comment

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: