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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Surah An Nisa: 4th Chapter of Quran (Part I)


Sürah An-Nisa' " ٱلنِّسَاء‎ " - The Women, is the fourth chapter of the Qur'an part of the Juz' 4-5 with 176 āyāt (verses) and 24 Ruku / sections. The title of the surah is mainly attributed to  numerous references to women throughout the chapter, including verses 4:34 and 4:127-130.

This Sürah closely connected chronologically with Sürah 3 Al i Imran  and the subject matter deals with social problems which Muslim community had to face immediately after Uhud.

The main object of this Sürah is to teach the Muslims the ways that unite a people and make them firm and strong. Introductions for the stability of family, which is the nucleus of community have been given. Then they have been urged to prepare themselves for defense. Side by side with these, they have been taught the importance of the propagation of Islam. Above all, the importance of the highest moral character in the scheme of consolidation of the Community has been impressed.

Owing to the length  of the Sürah and varied subjects discussed therein, the Sürah has been divided into six parts parts for better understanding, as already explained in the Overview.  We now begin with  the Part I which generally and specifically deals with subjects as mentioned herein under:
  • Just, fair and equitable laws and regulations for the smooth running of family life have been laid down for the husband and wife. Detailed instructions have been given for the division of inheritance and due regard has been paid to the rights of orphans. 1 - 35
  • In order to inculcate the right spirit for the observance of rules and regulations, the Muslims have been enjoined to show generosity to all around them and to be free from meanness, selfishness, stinginess of mind, because this is essential for the consolidation of the Communities and helpful for the propagation of Islam. 36 - 42.
Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer of Part I in English. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"


Ruku / Section 1 [Verses 1-10]
Verse 1 relates to the creation of the mankind:


يٰۤـاَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوۡا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِىۡ خَلَقَكُمۡ مِّنۡ نَّفۡسٍ وَّاحِدَةٍ وَّخَلَقَ مِنۡهَا زَوۡجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنۡهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيۡرًا وَّنِسَآءً​ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ الَّذِىۡ تَسَآءَلُوۡنَ بِهٖ وَالۡاَرۡحَامَ​ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ رَقِيۡبًا‏ 
( 1 )   O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.
What are the mutual rights of human beings, what are the principles on which a sound and stable family life can be established, are questions that are discussed a little further on in this surah. As an appropriate introduction to the subject, the surah opens by exhorting the believers to fear God and to avoid courting His displeasure, and by urging them to recognize that all human beings have sprung from the same root and that all of them are, therefore, of one another's flesh and blood. The expression 'Who created you from a single being (nafs)' indicates that the creation of the human species began with the creation of one individual. At another place, the Qur'an specifies that the one person from whom the human race spread in the world was Adam. 

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Nafs may mean: (1) soul; (2) self; (3) person, living person; (4) will, good pleasure, as in iv. 4 below. Minha: I follow the construction suggested by Imam Razn. The particle min would then suggest here a species, a nature, a similarity. The pronoun ha refers of course to Nafs.

All our mutual rights and duties are referred to Allah. We are His creatures: His Will is the standard and measure of Allah; and our duties are measured by our conformity with His Will. "Our wills are ours, to make them Thine," says Tennyson (In Memoriam). Among ourselves (human beings) our mutual rights and duties arise out of Allah's Law, the sense of Right that is implanted in us by Him.

Among the most wonderful mysteries of our nature is that of sex. The unregenerate male is apt, in the pride of his physical strength, to forget the all-important part which the female plays in his very existence, and in all the social relationships that arise in our collective human lives. The mother that bore us must ever have our reverence. The wife, through whom we enter parentage, must have our reverence. Sex, which governs so much of our physical life, and has so much influence on our emotional and higher nature, deserves-not our fear, or our contempt, or our amused indulgence, but-our reverence in the highest sense of the term. With this fitting introduction we enter on a discussion of women, orphans, and family relationships.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: خَلَقَ مِنۡہَا زَوۡجَہَا. If they are interpreted in the light of the following verse of Surah al-Nahl: وَ اللّٰہُ جَعَلَ لَکُمۡ مِّنۡ اَنۡفُسِکُمۡ اَزۡوَاجًا (72:16),they can only be translated in the way they have been above. There is no need to translate them as “from it” or “through it.”

The actual word is: تَسَآءَلُوۡنَ. Just as it means to ask and pose questions to one another, it also means to ask for one another’s help. Here it is used in this second sense.

This opening verse is a comprehensive introduction to the directives given in this surah. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while elaborating upon them, writes:

Firstly, the taqwa (fearing God) which this verse mentions has a special occasion and context. It means that this world has not come into existence of its own accord; it has been created by God Who is the Creator as well as the Lord of all. It is therefore unseemly for a person to regard this world to be a wandering herd which has no shepherd to attend to it and make it a target of his oppression and tyranny; on the contrary, it is his obligation to adhere to justice and clemency in its affairs; for he should know that God is very powerful, mighty and just. Those who oppress His creation will not escape His anger and wrath. He is watching over everything.

Secondly, all mankind is the family of Adam. All of it was created by the Almighty from Adam and Eve. Being the progeny of Abraham, all human beings are equal. No one is superior to the other. Whatever their colour, cast or creed, all human beings have the same status. All of them are God’s creation and the children of Adam. The relationship with God and with this one family is common to all. Its natural requirement is that all should serve and worship God and like members of the same family live among others with justice and fairness, love and affection.

Thirdly, just as mankind is the progeny of one father, their mother is also one: Eve. God has created Eve from the same species as Adam. For this reason, a woman is not inferior, mediocre or a natural sinner. As a human being, she is equal in status to a man. Neither can she be divested of her rights by considering her to be inferior and lowly nor made a target of oppression and injustice by considering her to be weak.

Fourthly, it is the fear of God and regard for blood relationships that has always remained a motivational force for mutual help and co-operation. It is on the basis of these two that a person appeals for help when he is confronted with some difficulty or danger and since this appeal is based on human nature, in most cases it is very effective. However, those who ask for their rights in the name of God and blood relationships often forget that just as it is right to demand their right on the basis of these relations, it is also their duty to carry out their obligation towards them. A person who is very vigilant in demanding something in the name of God but is not willing to discharge the rights imposed on him, is a person guilty of deceiving God and showing insincerity to blood relationships. Such a sin can only be committed by a person whose heart is devoid of the spirit of virtue. Just as those who are aware of the right of God and blood relationships try to benefit from both of these, they are equally vigilant in carrying out their responsibilities and in reality it is this balance between demanding rights and discharging them which is the real beauty of an Islamic society. It is towards this reality that the wordsوَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ الَّذِیۡ تَسَآءَلُوۡنَ بِہٖ وَ الۡاَرۡحَامَ refer. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 246-247)

Verse 2 is about Property of the orphans:


وَاٰ تُوا الۡيَتٰمٰٓى اَمۡوَالَهُمۡ​ وَلَا تَتَبَدَّلُوا الۡخَبِيۡثَ بِالطَّيِّبِ وَلَا تَاۡكُلُوۡۤا اَمۡوَالَهُمۡ​ اِلٰٓى اَمۡوَالِكُمۡ​ؕ اِنَّهٗ كَانَ حُوۡبًا كَبِيۡرًا‏‏  
( 2 )   And give to the orphans their properties and do not substitute the defective [of your own] for the good [of theirs]. And do not consume their properties into your own. Indeed, that is ever a great sin.
Allah directs the guardians of the orphans to spend out of the latter's property while they are still minors, and to restore it to them when they attain majority.

The order not to exchange the bad for the good has several meanings. On the one hand, it means that one should not replace honest by dishonest living. At the same time, it also means that one should not exchange one's own property which is of little value for the more valuable property of the orphans.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Justice to orphans is enjoined, and three things are particularly mentioned as temptations in the way of a guardian: (I) He must not postpone restoring all his ward's property when the time comes; subject to iv. S below. (2) If there is a list of property, it is not enough that that list should be technically followed: the property restored must be of equal value to the property received: the same principle applies where there is no list. (3) If property is managed together, or where perishable goods must necessarily be consumed, the strictest probity is necessary when the separation takes place, and this is insisted on.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: خَبِیۡث and طَّیِّب. Just as these are used for what is evil and good in the moral sense, they are also used for what is defective and good in the material sense.

The actual words are: وَ لَا تَاۡکُلُوۡۤا اَمۡوَالَہُمۡ اِلٰۤی اَمۡوَالِکُمۡ. The preposition اِلٰی is related to ضَمًّا or some similar word which has been suppressed as per linguistic principles.

The whole verse means that guardians of the orphans should return their wealth to them and should not think of devouring it themselves. They should know that unjustly consuming the wealth of orphans is like filling one’s belly with fire. So no one should try to swap his poor merchandise and assets for their good ones. Neither should a person try to benefit from their wealth while mixing it with his own feigning administrative ease. If such intermingling needs to be done, then it should only be for the orphans’ welfare and well-being and not to usurp their wealth.

Verse 3 relates to the Restrictions on number of wives:


وَاِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ اَلَّا تُقۡسِطُوۡا فِى الۡيَتٰمٰى فَانْكِحُوۡا مَا طَابَ لَـكُمۡ مِّنَ النِّسَآءِ مَثۡنٰى وَثُلٰثَ وَرُبٰعَ​ ​ۚ فَاِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ اَلَّا تَعۡدِلُوۡا فَوَاحِدَةً اَوۡ مَا مَلَـكَتۡ اَيۡمَانُكُمۡ​ ؕ ذٰ لِكَ اَدۡنٰٓى اَلَّا تَعُوۡلُوۡا ؕ
( 3 )   And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].
Commentators with regard to number of wives a believer can have have explained this in the following ways:
(i) There is the view of 'A'ishah who says that men tended to marry orphan girls who were under their guardianship out of consideration for either their property, beauty or because they thought they would be able to treat them according to their whims, as they had no one to protect them. After marriage such men sometimes committed excesses against these girls. It is in this context that the Muslims are told that if they fear they will not be able to do justice to the orphan girls, then they should marry other girls whom they like. (This interpretation seems to be supported by (verse 127 )of this surah.)
(ii) The second view is that of Ibn 'Abbas and his disciple 'Ikrimah who expressed the opinion that in the Jahiliyah period there was no limit on the number of wives a man could take. The result was that a man sometimes married as many as ten women and, when expenses increased because of a large family, he encroached on the rights either of his orphan nephews or other relatives. It was in this context that God fixed the limit of four wives and instructed the Muslims that they may marry up to four wives providing they possessed the capacity to treat them equitably.
(iii) Sa'id b. Jubayr, Qatadah and some other commentators say that while the Arabs of the Jahiliyah period did not approve of subjecting orphans to wrong, they had no concept of justice and equity with regard to women. They married as many women as they wanted and then subjected them to injustice and oppression. It is in this context that people are told that if they fear perpetrating wrongs on orphans they ought to be equally worried about perpetrating them on women. In the first place they should never marry more than four, and of those four, they should marry only as many as they can treat fairly.
Each of the three interpretations is plausible and all three may possibly be correct. Moreover, the verse could also mean that if a person does not find himself able to treat orphans in a fair manner, then he might as well marry the women who are looking after those orphans.

Muslim jurists are agreed that according to this verse the maximum number Of wives has been fixed at four. This conclusion is also supported by traditions. It is reported that when Ghaylan, the chief of Ta'if, embraced Islam he had nine wives. The Prophet (peace be on him) ordered him to keep only four wives and divorce the rest. Another person, Nawfal b. Mu'awiyah, had five wives. The Prophet (peace be on him) ordered him to divorce one of them. (For the relevant traditions see the comments of Ibn Kathir and Qurtubi on this verse - Ed.)

This verse stipulates that marrying more wives than one is permissible on the condition that one treats his wives equitably. A person who avails himself of this permission granted by God to have a plurality of wives, and disregards the condition laid down by God to treat them equitably has not acted in good faith with God. In case there are complaints from wives that they are not being treated equitably, the Islamic state has the right to intervene and redress such grievances.

Some people who have been overwhelmed and overawed by the Christianized outlook of Westerners have tried to prove that the real aim of the Qur'an was to put an end to polygamy (which, in their opinion, is intrinsically evil). Since it was widely practiced at that time, however, Islam confined itself to placing restrictions on it. Such arguments only show the mental slavery to which these people have succumbed. That polygamy is an evil per se is an unacceptable proposition, for under certain conditions it becomes a moral and social necessity. If polygamy is totally prohibited men who cannot remain satisfied with only one wife will look outside the bounds of matrimonial life and create sexual anarchy and corruption. This is likely to cause much greater harm than polygamy to the moral and social order. For this reason the Qur'an has allowed those who feel the need for it to resort to polygamy. Those who consider it an evil in itself may certainly denounce it in disregard of the Qur'an and may even argue for its abolition. But they have no right to attribute such a view to the Qur'an, for it has expressed its permission of polygamy in quite categorical terms. Indeed, there is not the slightest hint in the Qur'an that could justify the conclusion that it advocates abolition of polygamy. (For further elaboration see my book, Sunnat k A'iniHaythiyat, Lahore, 3rd edition, 1975, pp. 307-16.)

This expression denotes 'slave-girls', i.e. female captives of war who are distributed by the state among individuals. The purpose of this verse is to tell men that if their financial circumstances do not permit them to support a free woman as their wife then they may marry a slave-girl (see verse 25 below); if they consider it necessary to have more than one wife and it would be difficult for them to treat their free wives equitably they may resort to slave-girls, for here the burden of obligations is lighter by comparison. (For further injunctions regarding slave-girls seen. 44 below.)

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: مَا طَابَ لَکُمۡ. They can also mean “who are likable” or “who agree.” The meaning I have preferred is more apt to the context and occasion.

This verse was not primarily revealed to state any directive regarding polygamy. It was actually revealed to make use of the pre-existing practice of polygamy in Arabia for the welfare of the orphans. At other places, the Qur’an has clearly alluded to the fact that as per the norms of human nature, the real benefits and advantages of the institution of family manifest themselves in a monogamous family. Consequently, it is stated in various verses that the father of mankind: Adam (rta) was blessed with one wife. It is basically social, psychological, political and cultural needs from which arose the need for polygamy. Such needs existed in various societies to different extents. To cater for these specific needs the Almighty never forbade this practice in the shari‘ah He gave in various periods of time. Here, in this verse, Muslims are directed to make use of this practice to solve a similar issue. It is said that protecting the wealth of the orphans as well as their rights is a heavy responsibility, and if they feared that they would not be able to do justice to the onerous responsibility and by sharing this responsibility by including the orphan’s mother or sister they would create ease for themselves, then they should marry women who are suitable for them. However, it has been made conditional upon two things:

First, even for as noble an objective as the welfare of orphans, a person cannot marry more than four wives.

Second, if a person is not able to deal justly with all four wives he should not marry more than one. Justice is a value that has to be maintained at all costs and cannot be sacrificed even for such a noble cause.

This has been stated because till that time, the institution of slavery had not yet been abolished. Thus, in spite of the fact a prohibition of enslaving men and women had been revealed in Surah Muhammad, this exception was necessary for the slaves which already existed in the society. Later on, the Qur’an directed people to do mukatabat with them. This was a proclamation of the fact that their fate was in their own hands and they could carve out their own future for them by asking for their liberation.

Here it needs to be kept in consideration that at the time of revelation of the Qur’an, the institution of slavery was as essential to the economic and social needs of the society as the institution of interest is considered in present day societies. In markets, slave-men and slave-women were bought and sold, and affluent houses had slave-men and slave-women of all ages. In such circumstances, a sudden directive for their emancipation would have resulted in many evils: for livelihood, men would have been forced to resort to beggary and women to prostitution. For precisely this reason, the Qur’an adopted a gradual way to eradicate this menace from the society and after many gradual measures of eradication, revealed the law of mukatabat referred to above in Surah al-Nur (24:33). After this, there was no possibility of enslaving someone who could stand on his feet and also be righteous. Inshallah, I will explain this law in detail in the tafsir of verse 33 of Surah al-Nur.

Verse 4 relates to the Obligation of dowry:


وَاٰ تُوا النِّسَآءَ صَدُقٰتِهِنَّ نِحۡلَةً​  ؕ فَاِنۡ طِبۡنَ لَـكُمۡ عَنۡ شَىۡءٍ مِّنۡهُ نَفۡسًا فَكُلُوۡهُ هَنِيۡٓـئًـا مَّرِیۡٓـٴًﺎ
( 4 )   And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.
In the opinion of 'Umar and Shurayh, if a woman gives up either the whole or a part of the bridal-due (mahr) in favour of her husband and later reclaims it from him then he is bound to pay it. The claim on the woman's part would be tantamount to her unwillingness to remit either the whole or a part of the bridal-due. For further details see the section entitled 'Mahr' in my book Huquq al-Zawjayn, 16th edition, Lahore, 1976, pp. 31-3 and 119-23.‏

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual word is: نِحۡلَۃ. It is declined in the accusative because it is a verbal noun. The implication is that the dower should be given to these women the way it is given to common women. This plea cannot be taken that since marriage is being contracted for the welfare of the orphaned children, no responsibility remains.

The actual words are: فَاِنۡ طِبۡنَ لَکُمۡ عَنۡ شَیۡءٍ مِّنۡہُ. The word عَنۡ here signifies withdrawal. The implication is that if they withdraw from their demand of the dower out of their own wish or show some other lenience, there is nothing wrong in this. If people want, they can benefit from it.
Verse 5 commands Not to trust property to feeble-minded people:


وَلَا تُؤۡتُوا السُّفَهَآءَ اَمۡوَالَـكُمُ الَّتِىۡ جَعَلَ اللّٰهُ لَـكُمۡ قِيٰمًا وَّارۡزُقُوۡهُمۡ فِيۡهَا وَاكۡسُوۡهُمۡ وَقُوۡلُوۡا لَهُمۡ قَوۡلًا مَّعۡرُوۡفًا‏  
( 5 )   And do not give the weak-minded your property, which Allah has made a means of sustenance for you, but provide for them with it and clothe them and speak to them words of appropriate kindness.
This verse covers a very wide spectrum of meaning. It emphasizes to the community of believers that wealth is one of the main supports of human life. It should not be left, therefore, at the mercy of those who are incompetent to handle it properly. By misusing wealth such people might destroy the bases of social and economic life and wreck the moral foundations of human society. The right to private property is not so absolute; if a person is incapable of exercising this right properly and if he might cause grave social harm by wanton expenditure then his right may be forfeited. The necessities of such a person's life should always be provided for. But so far as the exercise of his proprietary rights is concerned, due restrictions should be placed on it in order that the owner is restrained from spending his resources in brazen disregard of the dictates of morality, collective welfare and economic interests of the community. According to the directive embodied in the verse, anyone who entrusts his property to someone else's care should satisfy himself that the latter is capable of making good use of it. At a higher level, it is incumbent upon an Islamic state to take over the management of the properties of those who either lack totally the capacity for good management or cause social damage by misuse. In such cases the state is responsible for providing these people with their livelihood.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Your property: Ultimately all property belongs to Allah, and is intended for the support of his close relations. It is held in trust by a particular individual. If he is incapable, he is put aside but gently and with kindness. While his incapacity remains, the duties and responsibilities devolve on his guardian even more strictly than in the case of the original owner: for he may not take any of the profits for himself unless he is poor, and in that case his remuneration for his trouble must be on a scale that is no more than just and reasonable.

The age of marriage is the age when they reach their majority.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
It is evident from this that besides the rights of ownership the aspect of family and collective welfare should also be kept in consideration because the loss of wealth of a person is a loss for the whole family and at times even the whole society. For this very reason, the Almighty in this verse has called the wealth of an orphan the wealth of the society and has directed that if an orphan is immature and naive, it is the obligation of the guardians that they should keep his wealth in their protection and should not entrust it to him, for there is a chance that he will end up losing the money which the Almighty has made a means of sustenance and existence for people.

The actual words are: وَ ارۡزُقُوۡہُمۡ فِیۡہَا (feed them in it). The word فِیۡہَا is pointing to the fact that the needs of the orphans should be generously provided for from their wealth. This is in accordance with Arabic usage. In the given sentence, had the word مِنْهَا been used instead of فِیۡہَا, it would have meant that they should be given some part of their wealth for this purpose.

Verse 6 commands training the orphans to manage their properties:


وَابْتَلُوا الْيَتَامَىٰ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغُوا النِّكَاحَ فَإِنْ آنَسْتُم مِّنْهُمْ رُشْدًا فَادْفَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا تَأْكُلُوهَا إِسْرَافًا وَبِدَارًا أَن يَكْبَرُوا ۚ وَمَن كَانَ غَنِيًّا فَلْيَسْتَعْفِفْ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ فَقِيرًا فَلْيَأْكُلْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ فَإِذَا دَفَعْتُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فَأَشْهِدُوا عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّـهِ حَسِيبًا
( 6 )   And test the orphans [in their abilities] until they reach marriageable age. Then if you perceive in them sound judgement, release their property to them. And do not consume it excessively and quickly, [anticipating] that they will grow up. And whoever, [when acting as guardian], is self-sufficient should refrain [from taking a fee]; and whoever is poor - let him take according to what is acceptable. Then when you release their property to them, bring witnesses upon them. And sufficient is Allah as Accountant.
When such people approach their majority their mental development should be watched so as to determine to what extent they have become capable of managing their own affairs.

Two conditions have been laid down for handing over the charge of their properties to such people. The first of these is the attainment of puberty, and the second is that of mental maturity - i.e. the capacity to manage their affairs in a sound and appropriate manner. There is full agreement among Muslim jurists with regard to the first condition. As for the second condition, Abu Hanifah is of the opinion that if an orphan does not attain mental maturity after he has attained puberty, the guardian of the orphan should wait for a maximum of seven years after which he should hand over the property to its owner regardless of whether he has attained maturity or not. According to Abu Yusuf, Muhammad b. al-Hasan and Shafi'i, maturity is an indispensable pre-condition for the handing over of property. If one were to apply the doctrine of the latter jurists it would probably be more appropriate to refer particular cases to a judge under Islamic law. If the judge is convinced that the person concerned lacks maturity he should make adequate arrangements for the supervision of that person's financial affairs. (For a more complete study of the subject see Jassas, vol. 2, pp. 59 ff.; Ibn Rushd, Biddyat al-Mujtahid, 2 vols., Cairo, Al-Maktabahal-Tijariyahal-Kubra, n.d., vol. 2, pp. 275ff.-Ed.)

The guardian is entitled to remuneration for his service. The amount of this remuneration should be such as is deemed to be fair by neutral and reasonable people. Moreover, the guardian is instructed that he should take a fixed and known amount by way of remuneration, that he should take it openly rather than secretly, and that he should keep an account of it.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
It is good to take human witnesses when you faithfully discharge your trust; but remember that, however fully you satisfy your fellow-men when you give your account to them, there is a stricter account due from you to Allah. If you are righteous in Allah's eyes, you must follow these stricter standards.

I have resisted the temptation to translate "next to kin," as this phrase has a technical meaning in Indian Law, referring to certain kinds of heirs, whereas here the people meant are those whose inheritance is to be divided. The shares are specified. Here the general principles are laid down that females inherit as well as males, and that relatives who have no legal shares, orphans, and indigent people are not to be treated harshly, if present at the division.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
I.e., by entrusting them with some small or heavy responsibilities, they should keep judging whether the orphans have developed in them the ability to bear their responsibilities and an appreciation of matters. The reason is that sexual maturity does not necessarily entail intellectual maturity. In all such matters, this principle should be kept in consideration.

The guardians are advised here that though charging for a service they offer is not prohibited yet if they are well-off, they should not take anything from the orphans in return for their service, and if they are poor, they can take their due according to the norms of the society. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… Norms (مَعْرُوْف) means to benefit in a sensible manner from the wealth of the orphans in a way that is congruous with the nature of obligations, status of the property, general circumstances and the standard of living of the guardian. It should not be the case that a sane person should start speedily devouring and consuming the wealth of an orphan thinking that he would soon reach the age of maturity. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 255).
Ie., they should remember that one day they will have to present this account before God also Who hears and knows all; so nothing can be concealed from Him.

Verses 7-10 are about Laws of inheritance:


لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيۡبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الۡوَالِدٰنِ وَالۡاَقۡرَبُوۡنَ وَلِلنِّسَآءِ نَصِيۡبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الۡوَالِدٰنِ وَالۡاَقۡرَبُوۡنَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنۡهُ اَوۡ كَثُرَ ​ؕ نَصِيۡبًا مَّفۡرُوۡضًا‏ 
( 7 )   For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much - an obligatory share.
This verse embodies five legal injunctions. First, that women as well as men are entitled to inheritance. Second, that inheritance, however meager it might be, should be distributed; even if the deceased has left a small piece of cloth and he has ten heirs, that piece of cloth should be distributed among them all. This does not exclude, however, the permissibility of one heir purchasing the shares of other heirs with their consent. Third, this verse indicates that the law of inheritance is applicable to all kinds of property - movable and immovable, agricultural, industrial and so on. Fourth, it shows that the right of inheritance comes into force as soon as a person dies leaving property. Fifth, it implies the rule that immediate blood-relatives exclude those that are further removed.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
It is a touching argument addressed to those who have to divide an estate. 'How anxious would you be if you had left a helpless family behind? If others do so, help and be kind'.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is a reference to the shares of inheritance which have been prescribed in the subsequent verses so that man receives guidance in a matter about which he cannot decide himself and no chance remains for powerful inheritors to usurp and snatch the legacy of a deceased person. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… Before the advent of Islam, the situation in Arabia, in fact, the whole world was that all the weak, and not merely women and orphans were at the mercy of powerful heirs. At one instance, the Qur’an has referred to this by the words:وَ تَاۡکُلُوۡنَالتُّرَاثَ اَکۡلًا لَّمًّا(19:89) (and grab hold of the inheritance to usurp it, (89:19)). To address this situation, the Qur’an prescribed the shares of all the heirs whether men or women. When a person, after reciting the previous verses reaches this verse, he thinks that it is as if by the blessings of the rights of the orphans the door to ascertain the rights of others has also been opened. In other words, not only those who were themselves devoid of rights were granted these rights, others too by virtue of these were granted these rights. Women were mentioned in particular because it was for the first time that they too got a place right next to men as far as rights were concerned, and in the legacy of the parents and kin, a prescribed share from God –whether little or big – was made mandatory. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 256)
Although the shares of the heirs to a deceased are fixed, yet if at the time of distribution of inheritance these people come by, then even though they may not have any legal right in the inheritance, they should be given something and be spoken to in a befitting manner at their departure. The mannerisms of stingy people should not be adopted on such occasions.

وَاِذَا حَضَرَ الۡقِسۡمَةَ اُولُوا الۡقُرۡبٰى وَالۡيَتٰمٰى وَالۡمَسٰكِيۡنُ فَارۡزُقُوۡهُمۡ مِّنۡهُ وَقُوۡلُوۡا لَهُمۡ قَوۡلًا مَّعۡرُوۡفًا‏ 
( 8 )   And when [other] relatives and orphans and the needy are present at the [time of] division, then provide for them [something] out of the estate and speak to them words of appropriate kindness.
This directive is addressed to the heirs of the deceased. They are told not to be niggardly towards their relatives whether they be close or distant. Nor should they be niggardly towards either poor and needy members of the family or towards orphans who are present when the inheritance is distributed. Although they are not legally entitled to any share it is seemly for people to act magnanimously and give them something out of their inheritance, and especially to desist from making hurtful remarks.

وَلۡيَخۡشَ الَّذِيۡنَ لَوۡ تَرَكُوۡا مِنۡ خَلۡفِهِمۡ ذُرِّيَّةً ضِعٰفًا خَافُوۡا عَلَيۡهِمۡ فَلۡيَتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ وَلۡيَقُوۡلُوا قَوۡلًا سَدِيۡدًا‏ 
( 9 )   And let those [executors and guardians] fear [injustice] as if they [themselves] had left weak offspring behind and feared for them. So let them fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice.
 Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The principles of inheritance law are laid down in broad outline in the Qur'an; the precise details have been worked out on the basis of the Prophet's practice and that of his Companions, and by interpretation and analogy. Muslim jurists have collected a vast amount of learning on this subject, and this body of law is enough by itself to form the subject of life-long study. Here we shall deal only with the broad principles to be gathered from the Text, as interpreted by the Jurists. (1) The power of testamentary disposition extends over only one-third of the Property; the remaining two-thirds are distributed among heirs as laid down. (2) All distribution takes place after the legacies and debts (including funeral expenses) have first been paid. (3) Legacies cannot be left to any of the heirs included in the scheme of distribution; or it will amount to upsetting the shares and undue preference of one heir to another. (4) Generally, but not always, the male takes a share double that of a female in his own category.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَىٰ ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا ۖ وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا 
( 10 )   Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a Blaze.
It is reported in a tradition that after the Battle of Uhud the wife of Sa'd b. Rabi' brought her two daughters to the Prophet (peace be on him) and said: 'O Messenger of God! These are daughters of Sa'd who was with you in the Battle of Uhud, where he was martyred. The girls' uncles have seized the whole property and left nothing for them. Who will now marry these girls?' It was after this incident that these verses were revealed. (See Muhammad 'Ali al-Sabuni's comments on this verse in his Safwat al-Tafasir and the sources quoted therein - Ed.)

Ruku / Section 2 [Verses 11-14]
Verse 11 is about Prescribed shares in inheritance:
( 11 )   Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females. But if there are [only] daughters, two or more, for them is two thirds of one's estate. And if there is only one, for her is half. And for one's parents, to each one of them is a sixth of his estate if he left children. But if he had no children and the parents [alone] inherit from him, then for his mother is one third. And if he had brothers [or sisters], for his mother is a sixth, after any bequest he [may have] made or debt. Your parents or your children - you know not which of them are nearest to you in benefit. [These shares are] an obligation [imposed] by Allah. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.
This is the first general rule in connection with inheritance, viz., that the share of the male should be double that of the female. Since Islamic law imposes greater financial obligations on men in respect of family life and relieves women of a number of such obligations, justice demands that a woman's share in inheritance should be less than that of a man.

The same applies in the case where there are two daughters. If the deceased leaves only daughters, and if there are two or more daughters then they will receive two-thirds of the inheritance and the remaining one-third will go to the other heirs. But if the deceased has only one son there is a consensus among jurists that in the absence of other heirs he is entitled to all the property and if the deceased has other heirs, he is entitled to the property left after their shares have been distributed.

If the deceased leaves issue each of his parents will receive one-sixth of the inheritance irrespective of whether the issue consists either only of daughters, only of sons, of both sons and daughters, of just one son or just one daughter. The remaining two-thirds will be distributed among the rest of the heirs.

If there are no other heirs than the parents, the remaining two-thirds will go to the share of the father; otherwise the two-thirds will be distributed between the father and other heirs.

In the case where the deceased also has brothers and sisters the share of the mother will be one-sixth rather than one-third. In this case the sixth that was deducted from the share of the mother will be added to that of the father, for in this circumstance the father's obligations are heavier. It should be noted that if the parents of the deceased are alive, the brothers and sisters will not be entitled to any share in the inheritance.

The mention of bequest precedes the mention of debt, for although not everyone need be encumbered with debt it is necessary that everyone should make a bequest. (However, other Mufassirun (exegetes) regard making a bequest as a discretionary act - Ed.) As for legalities, there is consensus among Muslims that the payment of debts takes precedence over the payment of bequests, i.e. if the deceased owes a debt and also leaves a bequest, the debt will first be paid out of the inheritance, and only then will his bequest be fulfilled.

We have already stated in connection with bequest (see Towards Understanding the Qur'an, vol. I, (Surah 2, n. 182) that a man has the right to bequeath up to a maximum of one-third of his inheritance. The principle laid down in regard to bequest is that a man can -^\ot a portion of his inheritance either to a relative who is not legally entitled to any prescribed share in the inheritance or to others whom he considers deserving of help, e.g. either an orphaned grandson or grand-daughter, the widow of a son in financial distress, any brother, sister, brother's wife, nephew, and other relatives who seem to be in need of support. If there are no such relatives bequests can be made either to other needy people or for charitable purposes. In short, the Law has fixed regulations for the distribution of two-thirds or more of one's inheritance, out of which the legal heirs are to receive their shares according to the regulations laid down by the Law. A maximum of one-third of the inheritance has been left to the discretion of the person concerned, who can dispose of it by means of bequest in light of his particular family circumstances. If anyone makes either an inequitable bequest or misuses his discretion so as to hurt the legitimate rights of others, it is permissible for the members of the family to rectify the situation either by mutual agreement or by requesting a judge to intervene. For further details see my booklet Yatim Pot6 ki Wirathat ka Mas'alah, Lahore, 1954.

This is in response to those feeble-minded people who do not fully appreciate God's law of inheritance and try to fill, with the help of their limited intellect, what they see as gaps in God's Laws.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
At first sight, the Arabic words seem to mean: "if more than two daughters." But the alternative in the next clause is: "if only one daughter." Logically, therefore, the first clause must mean: "if daughters, two or more." This is the general interpretation, and is confirmed by the supplementary provision in iv. 176 at the end of the Surah, which should be read along with this.

This verse deals with the portions allotted to (a) children, and (b) parents. The next verse deals with the portions allotted to (c) husband or wife of the deceased, and (d) collaterals. The children's shares are fixed, but their amount will depend upon what goes to the parents. If both parents are living, and there are also children, both father and mother take a sixth each: if only one parent is living, he or she takes his or her sixth; and the rest goes to the children. If the parents are living, and there is no child or other heir, the mother gets a third (and the father the remaining two-thirds); if there are no children, but there are brothers or sisters (this is interpreted strictly in the plural), the mother has a sixth, and the father apparently the residue, as the father excludes collaterals. This is far from being an exhaustive statement, but it establishes the proposition that children and parents have always some share if they survive, but their shares are affected by the existence and number of the heirs in these categories.

Most commentators understand this to refer to adultery or fornication; in that case they consider that the punishment was altered by the later verse, xxiv. 2.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: یُوۡصِیۡکُمُ اللّٰہُ فِیۡۤ اَوۡلَادِکُمۡ. It is evident from these words that the shares which are mentioned subsequently are regarded by God as His will. Obviously, after this no Muslim can dare make his own will in parallel to the will of God.

If this directive had ended on this sentence, then it would have meant that if the children of a deceased are only a boy and a girl, then the boy will receive twice as much as the girl. If the number of boys and girls exceed this, then the inheritance shall be divided among them in a manner that each boy receives twice the share of a girl, and if there are only boys or only girls, then the whole inheritance shall be given to whoever among the two is present. However, the directive does not end here; in an exception stated adjacent to it, the Qur’an has stated that if there are only girls, then all the inheritance money shall not be distributed among them: if there is only one girl, she will receive one half of the inheritance, and if there are two or more than two girls, then their share is two-thirds. The reason for this is that the law of God is not based on the emotions of people; it is based on His unbiased justice. The benefit of girls for their parents is less than that of the boys because after marriage most of her benefit is transferred to her husband and her husband’s family. For this very reason, the Qur’an has stipulated her share to be half that of a boy and if there are only girls among children it has also reduced their share.

The actual words are: فَوۡقَ اثۡنَتَیۡنِ (more than two). However, I have interpreted them as “two or more than two.” The reason behind this is that before it, the word اثتنتينِ (two) has been suppressed, which is owing to the style and pattern of the Arabic language. If, in the language of the Qur’an, the share of a girl and of two or more girls is to be stated separately owing to a difference in their proportions, then there can be two ways of doing so. If an ascending order arrangement is adopted, then the share of one girl shall be stated first followed by the share of two girls. If the share of more than two girls is to be the same as that of two girls, then there is no need to mention it in words. After specifying the share of two girls after that of one, owing to a difference in their amount, if a silence follows, then this is a clear indication that the share of more than two girls is equal to that of two girls’. If a descending order arrangement is employed, then again, the words فَوۡقَ اثۡنَتَیۡنِ او اثنتين (more than two or two) are inappropriate as regards the linguistic style and pattern of Arabic; so after stating the shares of more than two girls, the share of one girl will be stated. In this style and arrangement, the commencement of a sentence byفَوۡقَ اثۡنَتَیۡنِ bears evidence to a suppression of the word اثۡنَتَیۡنِ before it. A little deliberation shows that the verse readily suggests this fact. The order of the arrangement demands that اثۡنَتَیۡنِ should come after فَوۡقَ اثۡنَتَیۡنِ, while linguistic considerations dictate that اثنتين should come before فَوۡقَ اثۡنَتَیۡنِ. To fulfill both these requirements, the Qur’an has suppressed the word اثْنَتَيْنِ by employing a suppression in the descending order arrangement. In the last verse of Surah al-Nisa’, these shares are stated in an ascending order. Accordingly, we observe there that فَوۡقَ اثۡنَتَیۡنِ is suppressed after اثْنَتَيْنِ:

اِنِ امۡرُؤٌا ہَلَکَ لَیۡسَ لَہٗوَلَدٌ وَّ لَہٗۤ اُخۡتٌ فَلَہَا نِصۡفُ مَا تَرَکَ ۚ وَ ہُوَ یَرِثُہَاۤ اِنۡ لَّمۡ یَکُنۡ لَّہَا وَلَدٌ ؕ فَاِنۡ کَانَتَا اثۡنَتَیۡنِ فَلَہُمَا الثُّلُثٰنِ مِمَّا تَرَکَ ؕ (176:4)

If a man dies childless and he has only one sister, she shall inherit half of what he leaves and if a sister dies childless, then her brother shall be her heir; and if there are two sisters, they shall inherit two-thirds of what he [or she] leaves. (4:176)

The sentence فَاِنۡ کُنَّ نِسَآءً فَوۡقَ اثۡنَتَیۡنِ فَلَہُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَکَ (and if there are only girls among the children and they are more than two, then they shall receive two-thirds of the inheritance) is an exception to لِلذَّکَرِ مِثۡلُ حَظِّ الۡاُنۡثَیَیۡنِ (a boy’s share is equal to that of two girls’). This means that if among the children of the deceased there are girls, their share is two-thirds or half which in case of boys only would all have been distributed among them. The copulative particle وَ (and) in وَلِاَبَوَیۡہِ لِکُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنۡہُمَا السُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَکَ (and if the deceased has children, then the parents shall inherit a sixth each) does not co-ordinate this clause either to فَاِنۡ کُنَّ نِسَآءً فَوۡقَ اثۡنَتَیۡنِ (and if there are only girls among the children and they are more than two) or to وَاِنۡ کَانَتۡ وَاحِدَۃً فَلَہَا النِّصۡفُ (and if there is only one girl, then her share is half); in fact, it co-ordinates it to the whole directive above which relates to the shares of the children.

This sentence is not coordinated to the shares of the girls just mentioned; it is coordinated to the whole directive above which relates to the shares of the children. Hence this co-ordination is emendative (li al-istidrak) in nature. The reason is that though it is clear from the words لِلذَّکَرِ مِثۡلُ حَظِّ الۡاُنۡثَیَیۡنِ (a boy’s share is twice a girl’s), their actual proportion has not been indicated. Thus the shares of the parents and the spouses mentioned later shall necessarily be given first and whatever remains shall only be distributed among the children. Whether among the children, there are only boys or both boys and girls, the same principle shall apply. Similarly, if only female offspring are present, then they shall receive two-thirds or half (whatever the case may be) from the remaining inheritance and not in any case from the total inheritance. The expression فَاِنۡ کُنَّ نِسَآءً فَوۡقَ اثۡنَتَیۡنِ (and if there are only girls among the children and they are more than two) is an exception to لِلذَّکَرِ مِثۡلُ حَظِّ الۡاُنۡثَیَیۡنِ (a boy’s share is equal to that of two girls’) and explains one of its aspects and it cannot have a different implication than it.

The actual words are: اِنۡ کَانَ لَہٗوَلَدٌ (if he has children). The word وَلَد (walad) here is used both for male and female children. This word is used here and also in the shares of the spouses. It has this same meaning in each of these places. In all the cases mentioned, whether boys and girls in the indicated numbers are present or absent, these connotations of the word shall be considered understood.

The words in parenthesis are suppressed here. When it is said: “If the heirs of this money are only Zahid and ‘Ali, then Zahid’s share is one-third,” then after this there is no need to say that “the remaining two-thirds is for ‘Ali.”

The actual word is: اِخۡوَۃ. Though it is a plural word, it only signifies the existence of an entity. It merely specifies that in the presence of brothers and sisters regardless of whether they are one, two, or more in number, the parental shares revert to their original amount.

The actual words are: فَاِنۡ کَانَ لَہٗۤ اِخۡوَۃٌ فَلِاُمِّہِ السُّدُسُ. After them also, the words وَلِاَبِيْهِ السُّدُسُ (and the father’s share is [also] one-sixth) or words of similar meaning are suppressed. The correct analysis of these verses is: “If there are children, then both the father and the mother shall receive one-sixth. If there are no children and only parents are the heirs, then the mother’s share is a third; but if there are brothers and sisters, then the mother’s share is the same one-sixth.” One can very well see how this style effectively induces the mind to spontaneously jump to the suppressed words: “and the father’s share is also the same one-sixth.”

It is evident from this that the right to make a will still rests with a person. However, in the verses ahead, the Qur’an has qualified it with the word غَیۡرَ مُضَآرٍّ. This means that this will should be of such amount that it does not infringe on the rights of the heirs. For this very reason, the Prophet (sws) advised that it is better that a person not make a will beyond one-third of his legacy. (Bukhari, no, 2742; Muslim, no. 1628)

The reason why this part of the verse is juxtaposed between the ones which state the shares of the heirs is that it should become clear to people that since the Almighty Himself has indicated who the heirs of a deceased should be a more just law in this regard could not have been enacted. Hence, after this Divine Directive, no one has the right to bequeath his wealth on the basis of familial relationship in favour of the heirs designated by the Almighty Himself. However, this does not mean that a bequest or will cannot be made in favour of an heir because of some need he have or because he has been of some service to the deceased or because of any similar reason. The “benefit” which the verse mentions as being variable is the benefit which a person has in his capacity of being a relative to the deceased. It does not relate to the needs and benefits which are known to us or can be determined by us.

This is the real meaning of the verse. However, a little deliberation shows that the right to obtain an inheritance is based on the underlying cause of اَقۡرَبُ نَفۡعًا (the closest in benefit), and the reason for the difference in the share of the heirs is also because their benefit for the deceased varies. Hence the share of a boy is twice of a girl and the share of a husband is twice that of a wife. Everyone knows that this benefit is by nature present in parents, children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and other close relations. Hence, in normal circumstances, they will be considered the heirs to the legacy of a deceased. However, if any of these relations instead of being of benefit to the deceased become an embodiment of harm for him, then, on the basis of the underlying reason of “closest in benefit” stated by the Almighty in these verses, such a relative shall not be regarded eligible to become an heir to the legacy.

A secondary guidance which is also obtained from this verse is that if in certain cases legacies are left over after distribution and the deceased has not made anyone an heir in them, then they too should be distributed according to the principle of اَقۡرَبُ نَفۡعًا (the closest in benefit).

At the end of the verse, it is stated that God knows all and is Wise. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this, writes:

… This distribution is based on God’s knowledge and wisdom. His knowledge embraces what is present and what is not and what is in the past and what is in the future. No one’s understanding can grasp the extent of His knowledge. Similarly, every act and work of His is based on deep wisdom and no one has the ability to understand all the intricacies of His wisdom. For this reason, neither should someone oppose this divine distribution [of shares] on the basis of knowledge or philosophy nor should anyone take a step against it in frenzy of bias and prejudice. At times, a person gives preference to someone because of his personal inclination towards him or her; however, this preference is wrong both with respect to this world and with that to the next. Similarly, at times he ignores someone because of his personal inclination whereas later circumstances prove that the attitude of the one he ignored was better both with respect to this world and to that of the Hereafter. Thus, the right attitude is that whatever step a person takes in this regard should be according to the shari‘ah and not on the basis of his personal inclination. This attitude will bring blessings for him. Those who take a step in this regard against the shari‘ah actually belittle God’s knowledge and wisdom for which they are generally punished in this world and will nevertheless be punished for it in the Hereafter. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 261).

Verse 12 outlines Inheritance of spouse's property:


وَلَكُمْ نِصْفُ مَا تَرَكَ أَزْوَاجُكُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُنَّ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَهُنَّ وَلَدٌ فَلَكُمُ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْنَ ۚ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِينَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۚ وَلَهُنَّ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّكُمْ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَكُمْ وَلَدٌ فَلَهُنَّ الثُّمُنُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُم ۚ مِّن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ تُوصُونَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۗ وَإِن كَانَ رَجُلٌ يُورَثُ كَلَالَةً أَوِ امْرَأَةٌ وَلَهُ أَخٌ أَوْ أُخْتٌ فَلِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ ۚ فَإِن كَانُوا أَكْثَرَ مِن ذَٰلِكَ فَهُمْ شُرَكَاءُ فِي الثُّلُثِ ۚ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصَىٰ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ غَيْرَ مُضَارٍّ ۚ وَصِيَّةً مِّنَ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌ
( 12 )   And for you is half of what your wives leave if they have no child. But if they have a child, for you is one fourth of what they leave, after any bequest they [may have] made or debt. And for the wives is one fourth if you leave no child. But if you leave a child, then for them is an eighth of what you leave, after any bequest you [may have] made or debt. And if a man or woman leaves neither ascendants nor descendants but has a brother or a sister, then for each one of them is a sixth. But if they are more than two, they share a third, after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused]. [This is] an ordinance from Allah, and Allah is Knowing and Forbearing.
Whether a man has one wife or several wives the share of the wife/wives is one-eighth of the inheritance when the deceased has issue, and one-fourth when he has no issue. The share of the wives, whether one-fourth or one-eighth, will be distributed equally among them.

The remaining five-sixths or two-thirds of the inheritance goes to the legal heirs, if any. Where there are no legal heirs, the person concerned is entitled to make a bequest with regard to the remaining part of the inheritance. Commentators are agreed that the sisters and brothers mentioned here mean half-brothers and half-sisters, i.e. those who have kinship with the deceased on the mother's side. Injunctions affecting full brothers and sisters, and half-brothers and half-sisters on the father's side are mentioned towards the end of the present surah. See (verse 176 below)

'Bequests which cause injury' are those that entail depriving deserving kin of their legitimate rights. Similarly, the debt which causes injury is the fake debt which one falsely admits to owing, and any other device to which one resorts merely in order to deprive the rightful heirs of their shares in inheritance. This kind of injury has been declared to be a major sin in a tradition from the Prophet (peace be on him). According to another tradition the Prophet (peace be on him) said that even if a man worked all his life, like the men of Paradise, yet ended his life's record by making a wrongful bequest, he would be consigned to Hell. (Ibn Kathir, vol. 2, p. 218.) Such an act of deliberate injury and calculated effort designed to deprive people of their due rights is always a sin, but it is mentioned by God particularly in the case of kalalah (the person who leaves behind neither parents nor descendants). The reason for this seems to be that a man who has neither issue nor parents is often prone to squander his property and somehow prevent his distant relatives from receiving any share in the inheritance.

God's knowledge is referred to here for two reasons. First, to stress that if a man violates God's Law he will not be able to escape from the grip of God, for He is Omniscient. Second, to emphasize that the shares in inheritance fixed by God are absolutely sound, for God knows better than His creatures where their true interests lie. Reference is also made to God's forbearance. This is in order to point out that harshness could not characterize the laws laid down by God in respect of inheritance since He Himself is not harsh. On the contrary, the aim of God's laws is to prevent people suffering inconvenience and hardship.

This is a terrifying verse in which those who either tamper with God's laws of inheritance or violate the legal bounds categorically laid down by God in His Book are warned of unending punishment. It is lamentable that, in spite of these very stern warnings, Muslims have occasionally been guilty of breaching God's laws with the same boldness and insolence as that of the Jews. Disobedience to God's law of inheritance has occasionally assumed the proportion of open rebellion against Him. In some instances, women have been disinherited altogether. In others, the eldest son has been declared the only legal heir. There are also instances where the entire system of inheritance distribution has been replaced by the system of joint family property. In still other instances, the shares of women have been made equal to those of men. In our time a few Muslim states, in imitation of the West, even contrived a new form of disobedience. This consists of imposing death duties so that governments, too, become one of the heirs of the deceased, an heir whose share God had altogether failed to mention! This is despite the fact that under Islamic dispensation governments may assume control of a dead man's inheritance only if it is either unclaimed or if the person concerned has specifically so bequeathed part of his inheritance.

In these two (verses 15-16) the first, preliminary directives for the punishment for unlawful sexual intercourse are stated. The first verse deals with women. The punishment laid down was to confine them until further directives were revealed. The second verse (i.e. 16) relates to both sexes. The injunction lays down that they should be punished - that is, they should be beaten and publicly reproached. Later, another injunction was revealed see (Surah al-Nur 24: 2) which laid down that both the male and female should be given a hundred lashes. These injunctions are necessarily of a preliminary nature since the people of Arabia were neither used to obeying the orders of any established government, the verdicts of any courts of law nor to following any legal code; it would therefore have been unwise to try to force acceptance of a penal code upon them so soon after the establishment of the Islamic state. In due course, the punishments for unlawful sexual intercourse, for slanderous accusations of unchastity against women, and for theft were laid down in their definitive form and served as the basis of that detailed penal code which was enforced by the Prophet (peace be on him) and the Rightly-Guided Caliphs.

The apparent difference between the contents of the two verses led al-Suddi to the misconceived belief that the first verse lays down the punishment for married women, and the second that for unmarried men and women. This is a tenuous explanation unsupported by any serious evidence and argument. Even less convincing is the opinion expressed by Abu Muslim al-Isfahani that the first verse relates to lesbian relations between females, and the second to homosexual relations between males. It is strange that al-Isfahani ignored the basic fact that the Qur'an seeks merely to chart a broad code of law and morality and hence deals only with fundamental questions. It is inconsistent with the majestic style of the Qur'an to discuss secondary details which have been left to people to decide through the exercise of their legal judgement. It is for this reason that when the problem of fixing a punishment for sodomy came up for consideration after the time of the Prophet (peace be on him), none of the Companions thought that the above-mentioned verse contained any relevant injunction.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The word in Arabic is kalalat, which is so construed usually. But it was nowhere defined authoritatively in the lifetime of the Messenger. This was one of the three terms about which Hadhrat Umar wished that the Messenger had defined them in his lifetime, the other two being the share of grandfather, and riba (usury). On the accepted definition, we are concerned with the inheritance of a person who has left no descendant or ascendant (however distant), but only collaterals, with or without a widow or widower. If there is a widow or widower surviving, she or he takes the share as already defined, before the collaterals come in.

A "brother or sister" is here interpreted to mean a uterine brother or sister, i.e., a brother or sister by the same mother but not by the same father, as the case of full brothers and sisters or brothers and sisters by the same father but different mothers is understood to be dealt with later, in the last verse of this Sura. The uterine brother or sister, if only one survives, takes a sixth; if more than one survive, they take a third collectively, and divide among themselves; this on the supposition that there are no descendants or ascendants, however remote. There may, however, be a widow or widower surviving: she or he takes her or his share, as already specified. The shares of collaterals generally are calculated on a complicated system which cannot be described in a brief note. For these, and the rules about Residuaries ('Asaba) reference should be made to special legal treatises.

Debts (in which funeral expenses take first rank) and legacies are the first charge on the estate of a deceased person, before distribution takes place. But equity and fair dealing should be observed in all matters, so that no one's interests are prejudiced. Thus funeral expenses should be reasonable; debts must be genuine and not reckless debts; and the shares must be calculated with fairness. A) Cf. xliv. 57, n. 4733.

Most commentators understand this to refer to adultery or fornication; in that case they consider that the punishment was altered by the later verse, xxiv. 2.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
These shares are evident from all aspects and like the shares of the parents shall be given from the whole legacy.

The actual words are: وَ اِنۡ کَانَ رَجُلٌ یُّوۡرَثُ کَلٰلَۃً اَوِ امۡرَاَۃٌ. In them, the word کَلٰلَۃ is used for all relatives except parents and children. It is commonly used in this meaning in Arabic. No doubt, this word is also used for someone who neither has parents nor children, however, there exists evidence within the verse that here in this verse it is not used in this meaning. In the discourse which began with the verse یُوۡصِیۡکُمُ اللّٰہُ فِیۡۤ اَوۡلَادِکُمۡ (God enjoins you about your children), it is observed that after a mention of the shares of the children and the parents, the Almighty has directed us to carry out the distribution of legacy by the words مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ وَصِیَّۃٍ یُّوۡصِیۡ بِہَاۤ اَوۡ دَیۡنٍ (after the execution of any will he may have bequeathed and after discharging any debts he may have left behind). The directive is repeated in the shares of the spouses: مِنۡۢ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُّوْصِيْنَ بِهَآ اَوْ دَيْنٍ and مِنۡۢ بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ تُوْصُوْنَ بِهَآ اَوْ دَيْنٍ. A little contemplation shows that in all these instances the verb is used in the active voice (ma‘ruf) and the antecedents of يُوْصِيْ (yusi), يُوْصِيْنَ (yusina) and تُوْصُوْنَ (tusuna) are clearly stated in each of these sentences. But in the verse of کَلٰلَۃ (kalalah), the verb is used in the passive voice (majhul). This departure tells us that the subject (fa‘il)of the verb يُوْصِيْ (yusa) ie., the legator in this verse is not stated. Therefore, in this verse, the word کَلٰلَۃ (kalalah) cannot be regarded as an adjective for the deceased. The change conclusively testifies that the Qur’an has not used the word in its first meaning, ie a person who does not leave behind either parents or children. Hence, in this verse, the verb یُوۡرَثُ (yurathu) is from the if‘al category used in its passive form and کَلٰلَۃً (kalalah) is مفعول له (maf‘ul lahu: an accusative on account of which something is done). کَانَ (kana) here is ناقصه (naqisah: modal auxiliary) and یُوۡرَثُ (yurathu) is its خبر (khabar: inchoative). رَجُلٌ اَوِ امۡرَاَۃٌ (rajulun aw imra’atun)are the اسماء (asma: nouns) of کَانَ (kana).

Naturally, only the deceased person will have the right to make someone his heir. The meaning of the passive verb یُوۡرَثُ (yurathu) in this context can only be that an heir is made in the absence of the heirs whose shares are mentioned above.

This means that if a man or a woman from those associated with the same kin is made an heir, then if this heir has one brother or sister a sixth of the wealth he is made heir of will be given to the brother or sister and if the heir has more than one brother or sister, then they shall share equally in a third of what the heir himself receives, after all outstanding debts are paid off and the will he may have made is executed. After this, there remains no need to say that the remaining five-sixths or two-thirds (whatever might be the case) shall be given to the person whom the deceased had made his heir. If it is said: “Ahmad has made your son the heir of his wealth, but if he has a brother then the brother shall be entitled to a third of his share,” it clearly means that after the brother receives his share, the remaining money should be given to the son who has actually been made the heir.

This directive of the Qur’an has a very sound reason behind it. Naturally, a deceased can choose to make any brother, sister, aunt or uncle (the kalalah relatives) his heir. But there can be other brothers or uncles besides the one who has been made an heir by a deceased. The case is no different for sisters or aunts also. A person can prefer any uncle or aunt. But the Almighty does not approve of totally depriving all other associations of the same relationship of any share. Therefore, if a person, for example, has made one of his paternal uncles, Zahid, the heir to his remaining estate in the presence of two other paternal uncles, then the two shall share equally in a third of what Zahid receives, and Zahid himself shall receive the remaining two-thirds.

These words at the end of the verse serve as a warning that this piece of advice is from the Creator of the heavens and the earth has directed us about. If any of His creations deliberately deprive a rightful claimant from his share, then he should be aware that God has knowledge of all his deeds, and, if he errs unintentionally, the Almighty is Gracious and Merciful. He does not burden a person with a responsibility he cannot fulfill. All His directives bring ease and facility for His creatures and are not meant to put them through hardship and difficulty.

Verses 13-14 Commandment to abide by the limit of Allah:


تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَسُولَهُ يُدْخِلْهُ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
( 13 )   These are the limits [set by] Allah, and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted by Him to gardens [in Paradise] under which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein; and that is the great attainment.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
To protect the honor of women, stricter evidence is required, i.e., the evidence of four instead of the usual two witnesses. It is the same for adultery (see xxiv. 4.).

وَمَن يَعْصِ اللَّـهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَهُ يُدْخِلْهُ نَارًا خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَلَهُ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ 
( 14 )   And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and transgresses His limits - He will put him into the Fire to abide eternally therein, and he will have a humiliating punishment.
Ruku / Section 3 [Verses 15-22]
Verses 15-16 Initial order relating to the punishment for women guilty of fornication: In verses 4:15-16 the first, preliminary directives for the punishment for unlawful sexual intercourse are stated. The first verse deals with women. The punishment laid down was to confine them until further directives were revealed. The second verse (i.e. 16) relates to both sexes. The injunction lays down that they should be punished - that is, they should be beaten and publicly reproached. Later, another injunction was revealed see (Surah An-Nur Verse 24:2) which laid down that both the male and female should be given a hundred lashes.

وَاللَّاتِي يَأْتِينَ الْفَاحِشَةَ مِن نِّسَائِكُمْ فَاسْتَشْهِدُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةً مِّنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن شَهِدُوا فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ فِي الْبُيُوتِ حَتَّىٰ يَتَوَفَّاهُنَّ الْمَوْتُ أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا
( 15 )   Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women - bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them or Allah ordains for them [another] way.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Keep them in prison until some definite order is received. Those who take the crime to be adultery or fornication construe this definite order ("some other way") to mean some definite pronouncement by the Prophet under inspiration; this was the punishment of flogging under xxiv. 2, for fornication, and stoning to death under the Prophet's directives for adultery.

Note the fine touch. A sin may be fashionable, and people may sin together without compunction. When one of them is faced with Death, he repents, but that sort of repentance is no good.

Among many nations, including Arabs in the Days of Ignorance, a step-son or brother took possession of a dead man's widow or widows along with his goods and chattels. This shameful custom is forbidden. See also iv. 22 below.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: وَ الّٰتِیۡ یَاۡتِیۡنَ الۡفَاحِشَۃَ. The word الۡفَاحِشَۃ means “fornication.” This word is commonly used in Arabic to connote this meaning. The verb used with it expresses continuity and thus has been translated keeping in view this aspect. It is thus evident that prostitutes are being referred to. Since in this case the main offender is the woman, men are not mentioned.

Ie., they bear witness that these women are in fact prostitutes who habitually commit fornication. In Surah al-Nur also, the Almighty has sustained the condition of four witnesses to prove this crime.

It is evident from this that this is a temporary directive. Thus God finding a way for the prostitutes that this verse mentions materialized later such that because of prostitution, these women were regarded as criminals of both fornication and fasad fi al-ard (spreading anarchy in the land). It is evident from certain narratives that the punishments of these two crimes mentioned in verse 24 of Surah al-Nur and verse five of Surah al-Ma’idah respectively were administered to them.

وَالَّذٰنِ يَاۡتِيٰنِهَا مِنۡكُمۡ فَاٰذُوۡهُمَا​ ۚ فَاِنۡ تَابَا وَاَصۡلَحَا فَاَعۡرِضُوۡا عَنۡهُمَا​ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيۡمًا‏ 
( 16 )   And the two who commit it among you, dishonor them both. But if they repent and correct themselves, leave them alone. Indeed, Allah is ever Accepting of repentance and Merciful.
In these two (verses 15-16)the first, preliminary directives for the punishment for unlawful sexual intercourse are stated. The first verse deals with women. The punishment laid down was to confine them until further directives were revealed. The second verse (i.e. 16) relates to both sexes. The injunction lays down that they should be punished - that is, they should be beaten and publicly reproached. Later, another injunction was revealed see (Surah al-Nur 24: 2) which laid down that both the male and female should be given a hundred lashes. These injunctions are necessarily of a preliminary nature since the people of Arabia were neither used to obeying the orders of any established government, the verdicts of any courts of law nor to following any legal code; it would therefore have been unwise to try to force acceptance of a penal code upon them so soon after the establishment of the Islamic state. In due course, the punishments for unlawful sexual intercourse, for slanderous accusations of unchastity against women, and for theft were laid down in their definitive form and served as the basis of that detailed penal code which was enforced by the Prophet (peace be on him) and the Rightly-Guided Caliphs.

The apparent difference between the contents of the two verses led al-Suddi to the misconceived belief that the first verse lays down the punishment for married women, and the second that for unmarried men and women. This is a tenuous explanation unsupported by any serious evidence and argument. Even less convincing is the opinion expressed by Abu Muslim al-Isfahani that the first verse relates to lesbian relations between females, and the second to homosexual relations between males. It is strange that al-Isfahani ignored the basic fact that the Qur'an seeks merely to chart a broad code of law and morality and hence deals only with fundamental questions. It is inconsistent with the majestic style of the Qur'an to discuss secondary details which have been left to people to decide through the exercise of their legal judgement. It is for this reason that when the problem of fixing a punishment for sodomy came up for consideration after the time of the Prophet (peace be on him), none of the Companions thought that the above-mentioned verse contained any relevant injunction.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is a mention of common perpetrators of this sin who indulge in it as paramours. Since both the man and woman are known in this case, hence both are mentioned. The masculine gender is used here to refer to the dominant partner, as per general linguistic principles.

It is this punishment which was later prescribed to be one hundred lashes. This is the extreme punishment of the crime and is only given to those criminals who commit the crime in its ultimate form and do not deserve any lenience as far as their circumstances are concerned.

It is evident from this that mending ways is an essential requirement of repentance. If someone does not desist from evil, he is not forgiven by mere utterance of words of repentance; in fact, on the contrary, this becomes a source of God’s displeasure.

Verses 17-18 Acceptable vs Unacceptable repentance:


إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا  
( 17 )   The repentance accepted by Allah is only for those who do wrong in ignorance [or carelessness] and then repent soon after. It is those to whom Allah will turn in forgiveness, and Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual word is: جَہَالَۃ. Though it also means “ignorance” it is predominantly used to mean committing a sin or some mischief while being overwhelmed by emotions. Thus in Arabic it generally occurs as an opposite of self-control (hilm) instead of knowledge (‘ilm).

The Qur’an has determined these two cases of acceptance or rejection of repentance. After this, one case remains: a person was not able to repent right after his sin; however, he did not delay repentance till his death. In this case, the Qur’an is silent and in the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, this silence creates hope as well as fear and the purport of the Qur’an also seems that one should remain between hope and fear in this case. He says that in spite of this what comes to his mind is the fact that such people would hopefully attain salvation through the intercession of the Prophet (sws) because in their case there is no reason for it to be prohibited.(See: Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 267)

وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّي تُبْتُ الْآنَ وَلَا الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا
( 18 )   But repentance is not [accepted] of those who [continue to] do evil deeds up until, when death comes to one of them, he says, "Indeed, I have repented now," or of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful punishment.
The Arabic word tawbah means 'to return, to come back'. A man's tawbah after he has sinned means that God's servant, who had turned away from his Master in disobedience, has repented, and has returned to obedience and service. On the other hand, tawbah on the part of God means that the attention of the Master, which had turned away from His erring servant, has once again turned towards him. In this verse, however, God makes it clear to His servants that tawbah is acceptable only from those who commit errors inadvertently and out of ignorance. Such persons will always find the door of God open for them whenever they turn to Him in repentance.

But this tawbah is not for those who pile sin upon sin throughout their lives in sheer indifference to God and who cry for pardon as soon as they see the angel of death approaching. The Prophet (peace be on him) has warned against this attitude in the following words: 'God accepts the repentance of a slave until the gurgling (of death) begins.' (Tirmidhi, 'Da'wat', 98; Ibn Majah, 'Zuhd', 30; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 2, pp. 132 and 153, and vol. 3, pp. 425 - Ed.) For when the last leaf of a man's book of life has been turned, what opportunity remains for a man to return to righteous conduct? Likewise, if a person spends even the very last moment of his life in a state of disbelief and then on the threshold of the Next Life he comes to discover that the facts are quite contrary to what he had imagined, what sense is there for him to seek forgiveness?

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Among many nations, including Arabs in the Days of Ignorance, a step-son or brother took possession of a dead man's widow or widows along with his goods and chattels. This shameful custom is forbidden. See also iv. 22 below.

Verse 19 Women should not be treated as a part of Estate:


يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِثُوا النِّسَاءَ كَرْهًا ۖ وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا
( 19 )   O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.
This means that the relatives of the husband should not treat the widow of the deceased as if she were a part of the inheritance and begin imposing their will on her. Upon the death of her husband a woman becomes independent. As soon as her legally-prescribed period of waiting ends, she is free to go to wherever she likes and to marry anyone she wishes.

This permission is intended not in order to provide them with an excuse to misappropriate her property but to exercise a restraint on her conduct and prevent her from lewdness.

This means that if the wife is either not beautiful or has some shortcoming because of which she does not seem attractive enough to her husband, the latter should not suddenly decide, in a fit of rage and disgust, to part with her. Rather he should act with patience and forbearance. It often happens that a woman lacks physical attraction but has other qualities which are of much greater value for the success of married life. Hence if such a woman finds the opportunity to express her qualities, the same husband who initially felt revulsion towards her becomes captivated by her attractive conduct and character. Sometimes in the early stages of married life a husband dislikes certain things in his wife, and this initial dislike may even grow to revulsion. Were a man to be patient and allow all the potentialities of the woman to be realized, it would become evident to him that her merits outweighed her weaknesses. Hence a man's haste in taking the decision to rupture the matrimonial bond is not praiseworthy. Repudiation of marriage should be a man's last resort, a resort towards which he should turn only in unavoidable circumstances. The Prophet (peace be on him) has said: For God, divorce is the most reprehensible of all lawful things.' (Abu Da'ud, Talaq', 3; Ibn Majah, 'Talaq', 1 - Ed.) In another tradition the Prophet (peace be on him) said: 'Marry and do not go about divorcing. For God does not like men and women who keep on changing partners merely for a change of taste.' (al-Tabrani, cited by 'Ajluni in Kashf al-Khifa. vol. 1, p. 304 - Ed.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Another trick, to detract from the freedom of married women was to treat them badly and force them to sue for a Khul'a divorce (see ii. 229, n. 258) or its equivalent in pre-Islamic custom, when the dower could be claimed back. This is also forbidden. Or the harshness may be exercised in another way: a divorced woman may be prevented by those who have control of her, from remarrying unless she remits her dower. All kinds of harshness are forbidden.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: اَنۡ تَرِثُوا النِّسَآءَ کَرۡہًا. The word کَرۡہًا is in the meaning of و هن كارهات او مكرهات. Deliberation on this construction shows that becoming an heir mentioned in the verse cannot refer to becoming an heir to someone’s wealth. The reason is that a person becomes an heir to a person’s wealth after the latter’s death, and the state of compulsion mentioned here can befall his heirs but not him after his death. Thus, to inherit here means to inherit women while regarding them as inheritance. This meaning is reinforced by traditions which say that in certain sections of pre-Islamic Arabia, the wives of a person were also transferred to his heirs like his wealth and animals would be. The Qur’an has made it evident in this verse that women are not animals so that they can be caged whenever a person possesses them. They are fully free to exercise their will and make their decisions within the limits prescribed by God. Nothing can be imposed upon them without their consent.

Just as it is unlawful to inherit a woman, it is equally unlawful for a believer that if he dislikes his wife he subject her to harsh treatment in order to recover any wealth or property that he has gifted her. Such an attitude can only be accepted if the wife is guilty of open sexual transgression. If the wife is not guilty of such behaviour and is living as a faithful and obedient lady leading a virtuous life, it is totally against justice and decency for the husband to harass her merely because he dislikes her. No doubt if a wife shows moral misconduct then this is a detestable thing, but no husband is allowed to deprive her of a decent living because he does not like her looks or because her temperament is different from his.

A husband who does not like his wife should still deal with her in accordance with the norms of justice and equity, graciousness and decency – to which his own nature testifies. The words used in the verse to convey this meaning are وَ عَاشِرُوۡہُنَّ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ. The word مَعۡرُوۡف implies good conduct and behaviour and decent conventions and traditions of a society. Here too the meaning is no different. In other words, the Qur’an instructs a husband to always adopt a befitting attitude with his wife in accordance with the good and upright traditions of the society whether he likes her or not.

The husband is told that if he treats her nicely in spite of his aversion to her, he might win the blessings of the Almighty both in this world and in the Hereafter.While explaining the words used to convey the above mentioned meaning, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

Although the word used here is عَسٰی which in Arabic implies hope and expectation, those who are aware of the delicacies of the language know that when used on occasions such as this, it implies a promise from the Almighty. This reference points to the fact that those who give priority to higher human traits and values instead of appearance are promised great rewards from the Almighty for this sacrifice. Those who have actually embarked upon this track have borne witness to the veracity of this fact, and none other than God is the most truthful. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 270)

Verses 20-21 Do not take dowry back from women:


وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَّكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارًا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا
( 20 )   But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
If the husband has decided to leave the wife, then it is not allowed for him to take back what he has given her. In verse 229 of Surah al-Baqarah, this same directive is given with similar emphasis. It is obvious from this that if wealth, property, clothes, jewelry and other items have been gifted to the wife by the husband in any amount, they should not be confiscated by him.

Since earlier in verse 19, husbands are permitted to take back any wealth they may have gifted in case the wife is guilty of adultery, here at the end they are warned that they should not dare make an excuse to do so by wrongly blaming the wife. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… It is absolutely against the decency and integrity of a man to slander and accuse a lady with whom he had pledged to live forever under a firm marriage contract. It was she who had unveiled herself totally to him and both lived intimately and in great harmony with each other. How unseemly it is on the part of the husband that when relations had to be severed with her he should try to extract from her what he so willingly spent on her and should go as far as to malign and accuse her for this base purpose. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 271)

وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَىٰ بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا 
( 21 )   And how could you take it while you have gone in unto each other and they have taken from you a solemn covenant?
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 way of bridal-due at the time of entering into that covenant. (See Towards Understanding the Qur'an, vol. I,( Surah 2, n. 251)

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The Qur’anic words used are: قَدۡ اَفۡضٰی بَعۡضُکُمۡ اِلٰی بَعۡضٍ. While explaining them, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

…افضٰي فلان الي فلان means وصل اليه و دخل في حيزه. Similarly, the expression افضٰي الي فلان بسره would mean that he unveiled all his secrets before him. The Qur’anic words are a very comprehensive and polite expression of marital relations between husband and wife. Both are exposed to each other to such an extent and in such a manner that no part of their outer selves and no aspect of their emotions and feelings remain hidden from one another. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 270).
In this verse, the Qur’an has called the marriage contract as مِیۡثَاقًا غَلِیۡظًا. What is the reason for this? Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... In my opinion, the reason for this is that its actual conventional and legal status is that it is a strong contract of rights and obligations between the spouses through which the two are united together with a will to stay with one another forever and both equally have rights over one another and have obligations towards one another. In their apparent form, the words of this contract are very simple and brief; however, they have a lot of implications and corollaries – which are well-known in every civilized society and shari‘ah. It also needs to be kept in consideration that this contract is between the husband and wife; however, the knot is tied by the command of God, and just as human beings act as its witnesses, similarly God too is its witness. So, what doubt remains in calling it مِیۡثَاقًا غَلِیۡظًا? The Qur’an has used these words for this relationship to refer to its real exaltedness: the husband must never forget that the knot tied between him and his wife is not through a frail thread; this relationship is very deeply grounded and under it just as the husband has rights, the wife also has rights which a husband must not evade. If he tries to run away from them, he will only belittle his honour and also make God angry. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 271)

Verse 22 Prohibition from marrying the wife of one's father:


وَلَا تَنكِحُوا مَا نَكَحَ آبَاؤُكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَمَقْتًا وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا 
( 22 )   And do not marry those [women] whom your fathers married, except what has already occurred. Indeed, it was an immorality and hateful [to Allah] and was evil as a way.
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.

In Islamic law marrying women who fall in the prohibited degrees of marriage is a recognized criminal 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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This Table of Prohibited Degrees agrees in the main with what is usually accepted among all nations, except in minor details. It begins in the last verse (with father's widows or divorcees). The scheme is drawn up on the assumption that the person who proposes to marry is a man: if it is a woman, the same scheme will apply, mutatis mutandis: it will read: "your fathers, sons, brothers," etc.; or you can always read it from the husband's view of relationship, as there must always be a husband in a marriage.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The implication is that this law will not be enforced retrospectively so that on its basis all previous relationships are not investigated and in the light of this investigation verdicts are delivered on their validity or otherwise.

This abominable practice existed in certain sections of the Arab jahiliyyah. The words used for it show that it being an act of open lewdness and a shameful and a detestable practice was also known to the nobles of the Arab society.

Ruku / Section 4 [Verses 23-25]
Verse 23 Women that are prohibited for marriage-"Mahram" relations:


حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَعَمَّاتُكُمْ وَخَالَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُم مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُم مِّن نِّسَائِكُمُ اللَّاتِي دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَائِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَابِكُمْ وَأَن تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
( 23 )   Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives' mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.
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.

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.

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

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.)

There is consensus among Muslims that if a boy or girl is breast-fed by a woman, that woman attains the status of 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 breast-feeding 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'i, 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 breast-feeding 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 breast-feeding 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 when 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.)

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.

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.

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).

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.)

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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
"Mother" includes grandmother (through the father or mother), great grandmother, etc.; "daughter" includes grand-daughter (through son or daughter), greatgrand daughter, etc.; "sister," includes full-sister and half-sister. "Father's sister" includes grandfather's sister, etc., and "mother's sister" includes grandmother's sister, etc.

"Fosterage" or milk-relationships play an important part in Muslim Law, and count like blood-relationships: it would therefore seem that not only foster-mothers and foster-sisters, but foster-mother's sister, etc., all come within the prohibited degrees.

It is generally held that "under your guardianship" is a description, not a condition.

"Sons" includes grandsons.

The bar against two sisters in marriage together applies to aunt and niece together, but not to deceased wife's sister.

Whom your right hands possess: i.e., captives.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This and other relations prohibited for marriage stated here are, in the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi based on the need of human nature according to which where there exists the closeness of blood relationships or relationships similar to it at those places the bases of mutual affiliation should only be the higher sentiments of familial ties, love and affection. Neither should base and lewd desires contaminate it, nor should jealousy and envy intervene in it. Viewed thus, these blood relationships are the closest and their closeness has in it such sanctity that if there is any sexual leaning, a virtuous human nature would never tolerate it. There is no doubt that it is this sanctity which is the foundation of civilization, the spirit of culture and the fountainhead of pure and unadulterated sentiments of affection and gentleness that bring a family into being. The Almighty wants the gaze of a son for his mother, of a father for his daughter, of a brother for his sister, of a nephew for both his maternal and paternal aunts, of a maternal and a paternal uncle for their nieces to remain free from the slightest trace of sexual leaning. Sense and reason also bear witness that any sort of sexual proclivity between these relations is devastating for human dignity and honour and is totally against the unadulterated state of chastity and purity that distinguishes man from animals.

After mentioning relationships by lineage, relationships by fosterage are mentioned. While commenting on their sanctity, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

In our society, people do not consider foster relationships as strong as what the Arabs considered them to be. This is because of the difference in customs between their society and ours. The truth of the matter is that this relationship has deep resemblance with the maternal relationship. A mother who suckles and brings up a child is his half-mother if not a full one. Moreover, how is it possible that a child not be influenced by someone whose milk has nourished and sustained him? An absence of such influence would mean that his nature has been perverted and it was necessary for a religion like Islam which conforms to human nature to reform such perversion. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 275)
While explaining how exactly a foster relationship is formed, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… Such a relationship is not formed by some chance episode of suckling a child. The words of the Qur’an stated in this verse clearly testify that this relationship is established only with the full intent of those involved. In other words, an accidental happening does not establish this relationship; it only comes into being after it is planned and is well thought of. Consequently, in the first place, the words used by the Qur’anare وَ اُمَّہٰتُکُمُ الّٰتِیۡۤ اَرۡضَعۡنَکُمۡ (your mothers who have suckled you). Secondly, the word رَضَاعَۃ (rada‘ah) is used viz:وَ اَخَوٰتُکُمۡ مِّنَ  الرَّضَاعَۃِ. People conversant with the subtleties of the Arabic language know that اِرْضَاع (irda‘) is from the if‘al category which in general has an element of emphasis in it. Moreover, the word رَضَاعَة (rada‘ah) is absolutely inappropriate to be used when a lady suckles a crying child to soothe him. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 275)

It is also evident from the words of the verse that foster relations are prohibited for marriage just as the ones through lineage are. This is the very purport of the Qur’an. However, the style in which this directive is stated – peculiar to the sublime language of the Qur’an – is such that what is self-evident because of intrinsic evidence or because of some logical outcome is not stated in words. The words used are: وَ اُمَّہٰتُکُمُ الّٰتِیۡۤ اَرۡضَعۡنَکُمۡ وَ اَخَوٰتُکُمۡ مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَۃِ (your mothers who have suckled you and your sisters through fosterage). As stated, together with foster mothers, foster sisters are also regarded as relations prohibited for marriage. Had the directive ended with foster mothers, nothing further could have been understood from it; however, if the relationship of fosterage with a mother makes her daughter a foster sister, then it is but logical to regard other relations of the foster mother to be also included in this directive. If being suckled through the same mother can make a girl a foster sister, why can’t the sister of the foster mother be regarded as the maternal aunt, her husband as the father, the sister of her husband as the paternal aunt, her daughter’s daughter and her son’s daughter as nieces. Hence, it is obvious that all these relations are also prohibited in marriage. This indeed is the purport of the Book of God and the words وَ اَخَوٰتُکُمۡ مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَۃِ testify to it. It is evident to any person of knowledge who deliberates on these words.

After a mention of relationships prohibited for marriage on the basis of lineage and fosterage, relationships which are prohibited for marriage on the basis of marriage itself are mentioned in the verse quoted earlier. Such is the obviousness of the sanctity of these relationships in human nature that no reasoning is required. Consequently, the daughter-in-law is prohibited for the father, and the mother-in-law, the wife’s daughter, the wife’s sister and both nieces of the wife, the maternal and paternal aunts of the wife are all prohibited for the husband. However, since these relationships are formed through the husband and the wife, a degree of weakness is found in them. Owing to this reason, the Qur’an has imposed the following three conditions on the prohibition of these relationships: Firstly, only the daughter of that wife is prohibited with whom one has had conjugal contact. Secondly, only the daughter-in-law of a real son is prohibited. Thirdly, the sister of a wife, her maternal and paternal aunts and her two nieces are prohibited only if the wife is in wedlock with the husband.

These words do not form a condition; they are meant to make the directive of prohibition more effective. While explaining this aspect, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… In the Arabic language, not every attribute is meant to impose a condition such that if the attribute does not exist, the directive would stand null and void. Intrinsic evidence and the context of the verse shows which attributes signify a condition and which merely portray a situation. In this particular instance, it is not only the context and intrinsic evidence but explicit words which testify that the daughter of a wife from the previous husband is only prohibited if the husband has had conjugal contact with the wife. It is thus evident that the real reason of prohibition for such a daughter is conjugal contact with her mother. If this is the case, then the husband cannot marry such a daughter whether she has been raised under his guardianship or not. It must be kept in consideration that in lofty classical Arabic especially that of the Qur’an a negation after a positive assertion or vice versa are never without purpose: they are indeed very meaningful. Mostly, such a style is meant to remove ambiguity from a statement. Hence, the view of some people that marriage with only that daughter of a wife [with whom conjugal contact is made] is forbidden who is raised by the husband is incorrect. In their opinion, if this is not the case, then marriage is allowed. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 276)

The reason for this condition of “real sons” is that in the time of the Prophet (sws) people would consider marriage with the wives of the adopted sons as prohibited. By imposing this condition, the Qur’an has elucidated the fact that mere adoption does not give the child the status of a begotten child nor does this adoption entail any prohibition regarding marriage.

The actual words are: وَاَنۡ تَجۡمَعُوۡا بَیۡنَ الۡاُخۡتَیۡنِ (and two sisters in wedlock at the same time). A little deliberation shows that this expression is of the same style as the one which has been discussed before under foster relationships. Although the Qur’an has only stated the prohibition of two sisters in simultaneous wedlock, it is evident that if combining two sisters in wedlock is a lewd thing as far as the relationship of marriage is concerned, then combining a lady with her brother’s daughter in wedlock or with her sister’s daughter in wedlock is like combining a mother and a daughter in wedlock. Hence, though the words used are: وَاَنۡ تَجۡمَعُوۡا بَیۡنَ الۡاُخۡتَیۡنِ, the purport of the Qur’an undoubtedly is: الْمَرْاَة وَ خَالَتِهَا بَيْنَ الْمَرْاةِ وَ عَمَّتِهَا وَ بَيْنَ وَ وَاَنْ تَجْمَعُوْا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ (and two sisters in wedlock at the same time and a lady with her brother’s daughter at the same time and a lady with her sister’s daughter at the same time). However, all these words are suppressed after بَیۡنَ الۡاُخۡتَیۡنِ because what is mentioned points towards this suppression as obviously understood. So obvious are the words of this suppression that no student of the Qur’an can err in understanding them.

Verse 24 Prohibited and permitted marriages continued:


وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۖ كِتَابَ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَن تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُم مُّحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ ۚ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُم بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا تَرَاضَيْتُم بِهِ مِن بَعْدِ الْفَرِيضَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا 
( 24 )   And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.
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 his 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.

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 regard to slave-girls. The Law does not lay down a limit in order to encourage people to accumulate huge armies of 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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
After defining the prohibited degrees, the verse proceeds to say that women other than those specified may be sought in marriage, but even so, not from motives of lust, but in order to promote chastity between the sexes. Marriage in the original Arabic is here described by a word which suggests a fortress (hisn): marriage is, therefore, the fortress of chastity.

As the woman in marriage surrenders her person, so the man also must surrender at least some of his property according to his means. And this gives rise to the law of Dower. A minimum dower is prescribed, but it is not necessary to stick to the minimum, and in the new relationship created, the parties are recommended to act towards each other with the greatest confidence and liberality.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is because coming into the ownership of a person would automatically annul her previous marriage. This was the law of those times which the Qur’an kept intact. Thus if prisoner women wanted, they could marry anyone because they were not required to seek divorce from their previous husbands.

It is evident from this that a nikah should be conducted through wealth – which here refers to the dower. This payment is an essential pre-requisite of marriage. Consequently, it is directed subsequently that Muslims must immediately complete this obligation if they have not yet done so.

What is the significance of this dower? When a man and a woman pledge to marry, it is the man who takes up the financial responsibility of the woman he is bringing home; the dower is nothing but a symbolic expression of this responsibility. The Qur’an uses the words صَدُقَه (saduqah) and اَجْر (ajr) for it. Both words imply money which is given to a wife for her needs in return for her companionship. Like nikah and the nikah sermon, dower payment is an ancient practice that was in vogue in Arabia before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (sws). It is mentioned in the Bible (Genesis, 34:12; Exodus, 22:17) in similar terms.

While commenting upon the importance of this age-old custom Imam Amin Ahsan Islahiwrites:

… Matters in which payment of money is a pre-condition and the payment itself is not a favour but a duty such that it is understood even though it may not be mentioned and its payment is an obligation dependent on the social status of the lady – are serious matters both with regard to the shari‘ah and to the norms of the society. No sensible person will become party to such a contract unless after deep consideration, he prepares himself to fulfil its responsibilities – [it is] for these benefits that the payment of the dower has been made essential. Those who have overlooked these benefits deem that the payment of the dower money has relegated the status of a woman to a saleable commodity. This of course is the result of not properly perceiving the underlying reason for the payment of the dower. The reason for this payment is to sound a warning to every person seeking to enter the sacred bond of marriage that he must think over the extent of responsibility this step will entail. Marital matters must be taken seriously. Even words said in a light-hearted manner in such matters have a solemn status. It is like walking on a sharp-edged sword. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 278)

It is evident from this that chastity is essential for marriage. No fornicator – man or woman – has the right to marry a chaste woman or man except if the matter has not reached the court and they cleanse themselves through repentance.

Verse 25 Permission for marriage with slave girls:


وَمَن لَّمْ يَسْتَطِعْ مِنكُمْ طَوْلًا أَن يَنكِحَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ فَمِن مَّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُم مِّن فَتَيَاتِكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَانِكُم ۚ بَعْضُكُم مِّن بَعْضٍ ۚ فَانكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أَهْلِهِنَّ وَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ مُحْصَنَاتٍ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحَاتٍ وَلَا مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ ۚ فَإِذَا أُحْصِنَّ فَإِنْ أَتَيْنَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ فَعَلَيْهِنَّ نِصْفُ مَا عَلَى الْمُحْصَنَاتِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ الْعَنَتَ مِنكُمْ ۚ وَأَن تَصْبِرُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
( 25 )   And whoever among you cannot [find] the means to marry free, believing women, then [he may marry] from those whom your right hands possess of believing slave girls. And Allah is most knowing about your faith. You [believers] are of one another. So marry them with the permission of their people and give them their due compensation according to what is acceptable. [They should be] chaste, neither [of] those who commit unlawful intercourse randomly nor those who take [secret] lovers. But once they are sheltered in marriage, if they should commit adultery, then for them is half the punishment for free [unmarried] women. This [allowance] is for him among you who fears sin, but to be patient is better for you. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
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.

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 offence 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.

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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
That is, captives taken in a Jihad: If you seek such a person in marriage, do it from no base motives. Safeguard your faith, and see that she too does believe. In that case, after all, she is of the human brotherhood, and her condition is accidental and redeemable. If the slave bore a child to her master, she would become free.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
These are from among the steps taken to gradually eliminate the institution of slavery. Thus it was allowed that slave-women who were brought up well by their owners, were kept chaste by them and had also converted to Islam could be married by those who did not have the means to marry free-women so that the need of these people was also fulfilled and these women who were mentally and morally downgraded were able to lead lives equal in status to free-women.

Ie., the real basis of honour and respect is faith and this is not merely the share of free families; there is all the possibility that a slave-lady be superior in faith to free men and women of higher status.

The implied meaning is that all mankind is the progeny of Adam and Eve. Being a slave-man or a slave-maiden is only a temporary situation. There is no difference between mankind in their capacity of being human beings.

So that their status is raised in the society and they too are considered equal to free women.

It is absolutely evident from this that the punishment of a hundred lashes for criminals of fornication mentioned in Surah al-Nur is the utmost punishment, which should be given only when the crime has been committed in its ultimate form and the criminal does not deserve any lenience as far as the circumstances of the crime are concerned. Consequently, criminals who are foolish, insane, have been compelled by circumstances, are without the necessary protection required to abstain from committing a crime, or cannot bear the punishment are all exempt from this punishment, and a court can also give them lesser punishment. Hence, it was said about the slave women who were present in the Prophet’s times that they also cannot be administered this punishment because of improper upbringing and education and because of lack of family protection – so much so, if their husbands and masters had done all they could to keep them chaste and in spite of this they committed the crime, they shall be given only half this punishment ie., fifty lashes instead of hundred.

This has been said because such a marriage could result in a clash between rights of marriage and rights of ownership and this could ruin marital life.

Ruku / Section 5 [Verses 26-33]
Verses 26-28 Allah wishes to guide and forgive:


يُرِيۡدُ اللّٰهُ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَـكُمۡ وَيَهۡدِيَكُمۡ سُنَنَ الَّذِيۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِكُمۡ وَيَتُوۡبَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ​ ؕ وَاللّٰهُ عَلِيۡمٌ حَكِيۡمٌ‏ 
( 26 )   Allah wants to make clear to you [the lawful from the unlawful] and guide you to the [good] practices of those before you and to accept your repentance. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.
Here a general reference is made to the directives embodied in this surah, as well as those revealed earlier in Surah al-Baqarah 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.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: یُرِیۡدُ اللّٰہُ لِیُبَیِّنَ لَکُمۡ. The particle لِ occurs after یُرِیۡدُ (He intends) whereas in verse 27 ahead the particle اَنْ occurs after the same word. What is the difference between the two? Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… By going through all the examples of both these styles in the Qur’an, it becomes evident that the word intention is used in two meanings in it: first, as an ultimate decision and certain intention, and second, “to desire something.” When the first meaning is implied, then the particle لِ is used and when the second one is implied, the particle اَنْ is used. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 282)

This whole statement is mentioned here as a decision of God. The reason for this is that it was already determined in the scheme of God that through Muhammad (sws), He will provide guidance to all mankind. This scheme was also divulged by all Prophets of God and was also a requisite of God being All-Knowing and All-Wise. The reason is that the All-Knowing and All-Wise cannot be negligent in providing guidance to His creatures after creating them.

وَاللّٰهُ يُرِيۡدُ اَنۡ يَّتُوۡبَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَيُرِيۡدُ الَّذِيۡنَ يَتَّبِعُوۡنَ الشَّهَوٰتِ اَنۡ تَمِيۡلُوۡا مَيۡلًا عَظِيۡمًا‏ 
( 27 )   Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation.
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 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 things which 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 to 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-Baqarah) 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.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The reference is to the People of the Book, specially the Jews who because of their enmity with the religion of truth and its followers were day and night busy in this activity.

يُرِيۡدُ اللّٰهُ اَنۡ يُّخَفِّفَ عَنۡكُمۡ​ۚ وَخُلِقَ الۡاِنۡسَانُ ضَعِيۡفًا‏  
( 28 )   And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is an allusion to the restrictions which had been imposed on people because of the juristic hair-splitting of the scholars. They are called اِصْرٌ وَ اِغْلاَلٌ (burdens and shackles) by the Qur’an (7:157).

This is a mention of human nature. The implied meaning is that the unnatural and self-appointed burdens that have been imposed on it had to be relieved one day. The Creator of mankind is aware of its weaknesses. It is not possible that He allow it to be burdened with what it cannot bear or bear with great difficulty.

Verses 29-30 Respect the ownership of one another's properties:


يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ إِلَّا أَن تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً عَن تَرَاضٍ مِّنكُمْ ۚ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا
( 29 )   O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.
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.

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.

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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Let me paraphrase this verse, for there is profound meaning in it. (1) All your property you hold in trust, whether it is in your name, or belongs to the community, or to people over whom you have control. To waste is wrong. (2) In ii. 188 the same phrase occurred, to caution us against greed. Here it occurs, to encourage us to increase property by economic use (traffic and trade), recalling Christ's parable of the Talents (Matt. xxv. 14-30), where the servants who had increased their master's wealth were promoted and the servant who had hoarded was cast into darkness. (3) We are warned that our waste may mean our own destruction ("nor kill or destroy yourselves.") But there is a more general meaning also: we must be careful of our own and other people's lives. We must commit no violence. This is the opposite of "trade and traffic by mutual good-will." (4) Our violence to our own brethren is particularly preposterous, seeing that Allah has loved and showered His mercies on us and all His creatures.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This means ways which are against justice, honesty, fairness and against the good conventions of a society and in which the basis of dealing is not the real consent of the parties and the interest of one is safeguarded in all respects while the other is made a target of deceit or damage by taking advantage of his helplessness or compelling circumstances. It is this directive of the Qur’an which forms the basis of all prohibitions in Islam that pertain to economic matters. Obtaining money through illegal gratification, theft, extortion, lying, co-operation with evil, embezzlement, misappropriation, consuming unclaimed items without publicizing them, all come under it. The various forms of sale and purchase and crop-sharing whose prohibition is found in certain narratives relate to this directive of the Qur’an.

The actual words are: وَ لَا تَقۡتُلُوۡۤا اَنۡفُسَکُمۡ. The word اَنۡفُسَکُمۡ used is similar to the usage of the word اَمۡوَالَکُمۡ earlier. So the opinion of the people who interpret it to mean “suicide” is against linguistic principles. For this interpretation, the style should have been different. Similarly, it must also remain in consideration that devouring one another’s wealth and the prohibition of unjustly killing someone are mentioned at one place in this verse by the Almighty. What is the reason for this conjugation? Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this, writes:
... The reason for mentioning them together is that both have a deep relationship with one another. The greed for wealth does away with one’s sensitivity towards procuring it legally or illegally and then this malady makes people so blind that it can cause bloodshed. If one researches into the reasons for various social disorders and carnages, one will find that the most common reason for this is greed for wealth. Because of this deep relationship with one another, Islam has equally emphasized the sanctity of life and wealth. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 282)
The implication is that when God is merciful, how can He approve of His creatures unjustly devouring the wealth of one another and killing one another? He would want that people should live with one another and be merciful to one another (رُحَمَآءُ بَيْنَهُمْ).

وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ عُدْوَانًا وَظُلْمًا فَسَوْفَ نُصْلِيهِ نَارًا ۚ وَكَانَ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ يَسِيرًا  
( 30 )   And whoever does that in aggression and injustice - then We will drive him into a Fire. And that, for Allah, is [always] easy.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The actual words are: عُدۡوَانًا وَّ ظُلۡمًا. When they are mentioned together, they point to two separate types of sin. The former of these refers to sins in which the obligations of a person towards another are not discharged fairly, while the latter refers to forcibly laying hands on the life and wealth of someone. However, when these words are mentioned separately, their meaning is almost synonymous.

The actual word is: نَارًا. It is mentioned as an indefinite noun to magnify it. I have tried to keep this in consideration in the translation.

These words point to a veiled reality. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this, writes:

… People who believe in God but do not have the right conception of His justice and mercy are very generous in giving leeway to themselves. They keep on committing big sins and like the Jews expect that God will be very merciful to them. The word سَيُغْفَرُلَنَا (soon we shall be forgiven) of the Jews cited by the Qur’an reflects their mentality. In reality, such people become bold and indifferent because of the respite and opportunity given to them by God as per His established practice; however, their excuse-seeking nature tries to find refuge in God’s mercy. The fact of the matter is that if God is merciful why should He show mercy to the unjust? The real people who are worthy of His mercy are the oppressed who have been harassed and troubled by them all their lives and who did not even utter a word of complaint. The Almighty has addressed people of such mentality and said: casting into Hell people who are leading lives replete with oppression and injustice shall not be burdensome for God the slightest. This is because just as He is merciful. He is also just and this justice is a consequence of His mercy. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 286)

Verses 31-32 Avoid heinous sins and do not be jealous:


 إِن تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَنُدْخِلْكُم مُّدْخَلًا كَرِيمًا 
( 31 )   If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance [into Paradise].
God is not overly exacting and severe in His judgements. He is not on the look out 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 AI '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 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 honoured, 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 neighbours 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 much 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 9l: 8 - Ed.)

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Major sins refer to ones which are the consequence of violating the ten commandments of God mentioned in Surah Bani Isra’il (17:22-39). It is a great favour of God that the reward of those who protect themselves from these sins is that God forgives their minor sins because of His unfathomable mercy. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while pointing to another thing in the tafsir of this verse, writes:

Here it needs to be kept in consideration that the way to protect one’s self from minor sins is that a person refrain from major sins. A person who returns thousands of rupees he borrowed will never tolerate the humility of being called a defaulter for a few borrowed rupees. On the other hand, those who commit grave and big sins but are very diligent in doing small virtuous acts are ones who strain out gnats and swallow camels. They urge others to pay zakah even in the minutest amounts they own but themselves build houses from the wealth of the orphans and from the income of religious endowments. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 288)

وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوۡا مَا فَضَّلَ اللّٰهُ بِهٖ بَعۡضَكُمۡ عَلٰى بَعۡضٍ​ ؕ لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيۡبٌ مِّمَّا اكۡتَسَبُوۡا ؕ​ وَلِلنِّسَآءِ نَصِيۡبٌ مِّمَّا اكۡتَسَبۡنَ​ ؕ وَسۡئَـلُوا اللّٰهَ مِنۡ فَضۡلِهٖ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيۡمًا‏ 
( 32 )   And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing.
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 favourable circumstances and others not. Some have been endowed with more resources than others. It is this diversity which 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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Men and women have gifts from Allah-some greater than others. They seem unequal, but we are assured that Allah has allotted them by a scheme by which people receive what they earn. If this does not appear clear in our sight, let us remember that we have no full knowledge but Allah has. We must not be jealous if other people have more than we have-in wealth or position or strength or honour or talent or happiness. Probably things are equalized in the aggregate or in the long run, or equated to needs and merits on a scale which we cannot appraise. If we want more, instead of being jealous or covetous, we should pray to Allah and place before Him our needs. Though He knows all, and has no need of our prayer, our prayer may reveal to ourselves our shortcomings and enable us to deserve more of Allah's bounty or make ourselves fit for it.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The Almighty has said this because the real sphere in which one should strive in outdoing others is not the sphere of inborn abilities and characteristics because in this sphere some in reality are stronger than others. The Almighty has created some people superior to others as regards their mental, physical, economic and social status. Similar is the case of a man and a woman. They have been created as counterparts such that one is by nature the active member and the other the passive one. While the former trait needs domination, vigour and force, the latter needs gentleness, subtlety and acquiescence. Viewed thus, each possesses relative superiority to the other. These are inborn characteristics and any effort to surpass one another in this area would be tantamount to waging war against nature. This would of course only leave them to mourn their own misfortune.

The Almighty has directed attention to another sphere in which people should strive to outdo one another. This is the sphere of earning reward for oneself through good deeds, high character, worship, diligence and virtue. The Qur’an at various places has referred to this sphere by the comprehensive words “faith” and “righteous deeds.” This is the sphere in which people should try to outdo one another. There is no restriction on anyone in striving to outdo others in this sphere; in fact, trying to surpass others in this sphere is as desirable as it is condemnable in the sphere of innate abilities. Both a man and a woman will earn great reward if they strive and exert themselves in this area. It is open for every person whether a bondsman or a free man, a person of high social status or low, good-looking or ugly, blind or blessed with the faculty of sight. If a person does want to become superior to others, it is this sphere that he should select for all his efforts and endeavours. Wasting one’s effort in the wrong sphere only brings into existence clashes and disputes which are of no avail. Consequently, if he really wants to test his mettle and expend his energies, he must select the sphere of piety and virtue.

Verse 33 Laws of inheritance are fixed:


وَلِكُلٍّ جَعَلۡنَا مَوَالِىَ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الۡوَالِدٰنِ وَالۡاَقۡرَبُوۡنَ​ؕ وَالَّذِيۡنَ عَقَدَتۡ اَيۡمَانُكُمۡ فَاٰ تُوۡهُمۡ نَصِيۡبَهُمۡ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ عَلٰى كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ شَهِيۡدًا ۙ‏ 
( 33 )   And for all, We have made heirs to what is left by parents and relatives. And to those whom your oaths have bound [to you] - give them their share. Indeed Allah is ever, over all things, a Witness.
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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Mawali, plural of Maula; from the root wala, to be near in place or relationship, to follow, Maula may therefore mean: (1) nearly related, (2) heir, (3) sharer or partner; these three meanings are implied here; (4) neighbour, or friend, or protector, or client (xliv. 44); (5) lord or master (xvi. 76).

When the emigration took place from Makkah to Madinah, bonds and links of brotherhood were established between the Emigrants and the Helpers, and they shared in each other's inheritance. Later, when the Community was solidly established, and relations with those left behind in Makkah were resumed, the rights of blood-relations in Makkah, and the Helper-brethren in Madinah were both safeguarded. This is the particular meaning. The more general meaning is similar; respect your ties of blood, of neighbourhood, and of friendly compacts and understandings. Be just to all.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is a reference to the distribution of inheritance which is mentioned earlier in this surah. Keeping in view the background and context, this verse is a warning for any effort undertaken to change the shares ordained by the Almighty. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… With this reference, the purpose is to further emphasize the fact that the heirs ordained by God are the real heirs. Neither is there any possibility of any change in them because of personal inclinations nor can the amounts of the prescribed shares be changed. If a person has promised to give something to a non-heir, then he should give it from the wealth reserved for such people. This can only refer to that part of the wealth in which he can make a will and which has been kept apart by God from His division. This share has been left by Him for such people. That is why the word used is نَصِيْبَهُمْ (their share). In the end, the attribute of God knowing everything is mentioned as a warning: the most secretive of efforts expended for any baseless bias cannot remain hidden from Him. He is present everywhere and watching everything and is aware of the hidden and the apparent. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 289)

Ruku / Section 5 [Verses 34-42]
Verses 34-35 Men are given authority over women and Corrective measures for disobedient women and Arbitration in family disputes:

اَلرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُوۡنَ عَلَى النِّسَآءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللّٰهُ بَعۡضَهُمۡ عَلٰى بَعۡضٍ وَّبِمَاۤ اَنۡفَقُوۡا مِنۡ اَمۡوَالِهِمۡ​ ؕ فَالصّٰلِحٰتُ قٰنِتٰتٌ حٰفِظٰتٌ لِّلۡغَيۡبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللّٰهُ​ ؕ الّٰتِىۡ تَخَافُوۡنَ نُشُوۡزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوۡهُنَّ وَاهۡجُرُوۡهُنَّ فِى الۡمَضَاجِعِ وَاضۡرِبُوۡهُنَّ​ ۚ فَاِنۡ اَطَعۡنَكُمۡ فَلَا تَبۡغُوۡا عَلَيۡهِنَّ سَبِيۡلًا​ ؕاِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيۡرًا‏ 
( 34 )   Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.
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.

The verb used here - a derivative of the root fdl - is not used to mean that some people have been invested with superior honour 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 head of the family. The female has been so constituted that she should live under his care and protection.

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.)

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.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Qawwam: one who stands firm in another's business, protects his interests, and looks after his affairs- or it may be, standing firm in his own business, managing affairs, with a steady purpose. Cf. iv. 135.

Or the sentence may be rendered: "and protect (the husband's interests) in his absence, as Allah has protected them." If we take the rendering as in the text, the meaning is: the good wife is obedient and harmonious in her husband's presence, and in his absence guards his reputation and property and her own virtue, as ordained by Allah. If we take the rendering as in the note, we reach the same result in a different way: the good wife, in her husband's absence, remembering how Allah has given her a sheltered position, does everything to justify that position by guarding her own virtue and his reputation and property.

In case of family jars four steps are mentioned, to be taken in that order: (1) perhaps verbal advice or admonition may be sufficient; (2) if not, sex relations may be suspended; (3) if this is not sufficient, some slight physical correction may be administered: but Imam Shafii considers this inadvisable, though permissible, and all authorities are unanimous in deprecating any sort of cruelty, even of the nagging kind, as mentioned in the next clause; (4) if all this fails, a family council is recommended in iv. 35 below.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
In this verse, the Almighty has stated His principle regarding the organization of a family set-up. A family is like a small state. Just as every state requires a ruler for its establishment and survival, this small state also requires someone to take charge of its helm. Either the husband could have been bestowed with this responsibility or the wife. The Qur’an informs us that the husband has been entrusted with this responsibility. The expression قَوّٰمُوۡنَ عَلَی النِّسَآءِ has been used by the Qur’an to convey this purport. In Arabic, when the preposition عَلٰی is used after the verb قَامَ, the meanings of “protection” and “financial responsibility” are incorporated in the verb. This, in other words, refers to heading a family and all these things are mutually essential. The Qur’an has given two reasons for this choice. While explaining these reasons, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
First, men have been granted superiority over women. There are certain innate abilities and traits in men which are more pronounced in them and because of which they have been made the head of a family unit. For example, a man is much more gifted innately to protect and to defend himself and to earn a livelihood and to take the initiative than a woman. It should be appreciated here that the superiority men have over women is not absolute: it is only in certain spheres – spheres which entitle men to become head of the family unit. There are certain other spheres in which women are superior to men but they do not entitle them to become the head of family. For example, a man does not have the extent of ability a woman has to take care of household affairs and to look after children. That is why the superiority which is mentioned in the verse is alluded to in an implicit manner such that it can be concluded that both men and women are superior to one another in different spheres; however, a man is superior to a woman as far as becoming the head of family is concerned.
Second, a husband bears financial responsibility for the wife. It is his obligation to earn and fulfill the needs of his wife and children. Obviously, this responsibility has not been granted as a coincidence or as a favour, but because of the fact that only he is fully capable of doing so. He only has this ability and only he can fulfill its rights. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 291)
After declaring that the husband should head a family, the Qur’an goes on to point out certain things to the wife for the smooth functioning of the institution of family. They are:

1. Wives should be obedient and adaptable to their husbands.

2. They should keep the secrets of their husbands and protect their honour and integrity.

The first of these things does not require elaboration. Without obedience and adjustment, no system can work whether it be a state or any other institution. This is the natural requirement of any system. In the absence of these attitudes, no system can function and will ultimately disintegrate by giving way to indiscipline and anarchy.

The expression حٰفِظٰتٌ لِّلۡغَیۡبِ has been adopted for the second of these things. Generally, this expression has been taken to imply “guarding in absentia.” This writer has taken it to imply “keeping of secrets” because this in his opinion is the correct connotation of the expression. While explaining the meaning of this expression, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… One reason for adopting this meaning is that the word غَیۡب is very commonly used to imply “secrets.” Second, here the nature of the expression is such that it cannot be taken to mean “guarding in absentia.” Third, guarding of secrets is one of the most important issues between a husband and wife. They are natural protectors of one another in this regard. The position of the wife is more important in this regard. She has full knowledge of her husband’s weaknesses and strengths. She is well aware of what ensues in the house as well has full knowledge of the extent and nature of her husband’s wealth and property. His honour and integrity rest with her. If she decides to reveal all his secrets, she can totally disgrace him. For this reason, the Qur’an has specially mentioned this attribute of a wife. The addition of the words حَفِظَ اللّٰہُ is very meaningful and refers to the exalted status of this attribute: it is in fact a manifestation of a divine attribute in man. The Almighty also keeps secrets of His creatures. If He starts revealing their secrets, everyone would be totally humiliated. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 292)
The Qur’an has said that this is the attitude of pious wives. As a natural outcome of this directive, wives who adopt a rebellious attitude or reveal household secrets are not pious in the eyes of the Almighty.

The actual word is: نُشُوۡز. Literally, it means “to defy authority;” however, it is predominantly used for the utter defiance of authority a wife shows to the husband. The word is not used for a blemish or for an instance of indifference by the wife. Similarly, it does not imply that a wife cannot express her opinion, taste or the various traits of her personality. It implies the behaviour which a wife adopts when she seems inclined to challenge the authority of the husband and disrupt the discipline of the house.

This is the answer to the question that if a woman instead of adopting a harmonious attitude with her husband resorts to a rebellious attitude and while living in the house of her husband refuses to acknowledge him as her husband, then can he punish her to reform her? The Qur’an says that if the situation reaches this extent, the Almighty has given the husband three options:

First, he should urge his wife to mend her ways. The word used by the Qur’an is وَعْظ which means that she can be admonished and also scolded to some extent in this regard.

Second, intimate marital relations with her should be suspended in order to communicate to her that if she does not mend her ways she might have to face severe repercussions.

Third, she should be punished physically. This punishment should obviously be similar to the one a teacher gives to a student or what a father gives to his children. The Prophet (sws) has used the words غَيْرَ مُبَرِّح (Abu Da’ud, Sunan, no. 1905) which refers to a punishment which does not leave a permanent mark.

It is evident from the style of the verse that a gradual sequence should be adopted in exercising these options. In other words, the second step after the first and the third after the second should only be adopted if the husband is convinced that there is no other option but to go on to the next step. These measures point to the utmost limit to which a husband can go regarding admonishing his wife. The Qur’an says that if the wife mends her ways through these measures a husband should not look for revenge and vengeance. He is warned thus: اِنَّ اللّٰہَ کَانَ عَلِیۡمًا خَبِیۡرًا (indeed, God is exalted and mighty). The implication is that if the Lord of the heavens and the earth forgoes the arrogance of His creatures and forgives them if they repent, His creatures should also not misuse their authority over others.

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُوا حَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا إِن يُرِيدَا إِصْلَاحًا يُوَفِّقِ اللَّـهُ بَيْنَهُمَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا خَبِيرًا 
( 35 )   And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted [with all things].
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.

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 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, whereafter 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 group 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 judgements 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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Temper, nagging, sarcasm, speaking at each other in other people's presence, reverting to past faults which should be forgiven and forgotten,-all this is forbidden. And the reason given is characteristic of Islam. You must live all your life as in the presence of Allah, Who is high above us, but Who watches over us. How petty and contemptible will our little squabbles appear in His presence!

An excellent plan for settling family disputes, without too much publicity or mud-throwing, or resort to the chicaneries of the law. The Latin countries recognize this plan in their legal systems. It is a pity that Muslims do not resort to it universally, as they should. The arbiters from each family would know the idiosyncrasies of both parties, and would be able, with Allah's help to effect a real reconciliation.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., if the husband is unable to check the nushuz of the wife even after adopting the measures mentioned earlier, then this means that it is no longer easy to keep this relationship intact. However, even at this instance, the Almighty does not want that a husband divorce his wife and thus get rid of her. Thus He has asked Muslims to adopt another measure: the relatives of the couple, their clan and tribe and other well wishers should come forward and use their influence to set right the situation.

These words subtly urge the couple to benefit from this scheme. If, instead of severing ties, they wish to create harmony among themselves they should keep in mind that the Almighty is benevolent. He will help them in redeeming the situation.

Verses 36-38  Rights of other human beings (Huquq-al-Ibad):


وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالْجَنبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا
( 36 )   Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.
The expression al-sahib bi al-janb (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 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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The essence of Islam is to serve Allah and do good to your fellow-creatures. This is wider and more comprehensive than "Love God and love your neighbour". For it includes duties to animals as our fellow-creatures, and emphasizes practical service rather than sentiment.

Neighbours who are near: that is, in local situation as well as intimate relationships, just as neighbours who are strangers includes those whom we do not know or who live away from us.

The Companion by your side may be your intimate friends and associates, just as the way-farer you meet may be a casual acquaintance on your travels. This last is much wider than the "stranger within your gate."

Real deeds of service and kindness proceed, not from showing off or from a superior sort of condescension (cf. "White Man's Burden"), but from a frank recognition of our own humility and the real claims, before Allah, of all our fellow-creatures. For in our mutual needs we are equal before Allah, or perhaps the best of us (as the world sees us) may be worse than the worst of us (from the same point of view).

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is a mention of good and bad morals. Like some other places in the Qur’an, this too begins with a mention of the directive of worshipping the Almighty. Worshipping Him is His right and since He is the Creator, Master and Lord of this universe, hence His right is the greatest. The essence of worship is humility and servility and its foremost manifestation is devotion to Him. Then, because a person also possesses a physical entity, this devotion becomes inclusive of obedience. The manifestations of the first case are tasbih (glorifying God), tahmid (thanking God), du‘a (supplicating before God), ruku‘ u sujud (kneeling and prostrating before God), nadhr niyadh (making vows to God), qurbani (animal sacrifice) and i‘itikaf (secluding one self in the mosque in the month of Ramadan). In the second case, a person regarding someone an independent law-giver, submits to him and acknowledges his authority to declare things halal or haram and give directives to do something or to abstain from some other thing. It is the verdict of the God of this universe that none of these things can be from anyone besides Him. Thus it is simultaneously said that no one should be associated in worshiping Him. This is the right of God only. If someone else is associated with Him in worship, then the latter is rendered baseless.

The actual words are: وَ بِالۡوَالِدَیۡنِ اِحۡسَانًا. The letter ب found here shows that the word encompasses the meaning of loyalty. In other words, kindness to parents should be accompanied by fulfilling their rights. All divine scriptures instruct us to do so. The Qur’an too in this instance and in 17:23, 29:8, 31:14-15 and 46:15 has urged its followers to adopt this. There is no doubt that among human beings, parents have the greatest right. Thus immediately after directing the Muslims to worship God, they are asked to be kind to their parents. The reason for this is that it is a person’s parents who bring him into existence and are the means required for his upbringing. The way this directive is mentioned in Surah Luqman and Surah al-Ahqaf shows that among the parents, the right of the mother is more than that of the father. No doubt, the care and affection of the father is quite a lot, however the hardship a mother encounters in bringing up the child starting from her pregnancy, to childbirth and then breast-feeding the child is unmatched and no child can repay her for this great service. On these grounds, the Prophet (sws) has regarded the right of the mother as three times that of the father. (See: al-Bukhari, no. 5971; Muslim, no. 6500)

It is evident from the verse that after the parents, a person’s foremost obligation is towards other relatives and the kindred. The expression silah-i rahmi is used for kind treatment to these people. The basis of a relationship between human beings can be multifarious: people can be class mates, neighbours, friends or companions; they can have common interests or common professions and the basis can even entail being citizens of the same country; however, in all these relationships the greatest relationships are between blood relatives. This is the knot tied by the Almighty and it is not befitting for a human being to untie it. Thus safeguarding the rights of this relationship is a foremost obligation.

After relatives and the kindred, the orphans and the needy are included in the list. It follows from this that they too fall in the category of the kindred; hence every Muslim should regard them to be so and with this motivation patronize them and be of service to them.

In spite of the change in society, even today travellers can become needy in some respect or the other; however, slavery no longer exists. The measures adopted by Islam in eradicating it are mentioned in the chapter “The Social Shari‘ah” of my treatise: Mizan.

With regard to one’s neighbours, the view of the Qur’an is unique in the history of religion and morality. It is generally considered that a neighbour is a person who lives next door or nearby; however, the Qur’an says that a neighbour is of three types:

First, someone who is a neighbour and also a relative. The Qur’anic words used are الۡجَارِ ذِی الۡقُرۡبٰی and it is mentioned the foremost. It means that among other neighbours, he is more worthy of kind treatment.

Second, someone who is not a relative, yet he is a neighbour. The words used are الۡجَارِ الۡجُنُبِ (unfamiliar neighbour). This unfamiliarity can be on the basis of relationship or on the basis of having a different religion. After a neighbour who is a relative, is the status of this neighbour.

Third, a person who accompanies us in travel or is in our company at some place. الصَّاحِبِ بِالۡجَنۡۢبِ are the words used for such a person. Muslims have been directed to treat him kindly too the way they treat other neighbours.

 الَّذِينَ يَبْخَلُونَ وَيَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبُخْلِ وَيَكْتُمُونَ مَا آتَاهُمُ اللَّـهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۗ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابًا مُّهِينًا
( 37 )   Who are stingy and enjoin upon [other] people stinginess and conceal what Allah has given them of His bounty - and We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment
 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.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Arrogance is one reason why our deeds of love and kindness do not thrive. Another is niggardliness or selfishness. Allah does not love either the one or the other, for they both proceed from want of love of Allah, or faith in Allah. Niggardly is the worldly wise man who not only refuses to spend himself in service, but by example and precept prevents others from doing so, as otherwise he would be made odious by comparison, before his fellow-creatures. So he either makes a virtue of his caution, or hides the gifts which have been given him-wealth, position, talent, etc.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
After urging people to discharge their duties to others and to be kind, a mention of the opposite mentality is made. The implication is that those who regard the favours bestowed on them by God a consequence of their own ability and planning instead of becoming grateful and humble end up with an arrogant and conceited mentality.

Stated here is some further character traits of the conceited and boastful people referred to earlier. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining this, writes:

Firstly, these people are themselves stingy and urge others to be stingy as well. A stingy person is one who is miserly in discharging his obligations towards others. A person who magnanimously and whole-heartedly discharges his duties towards others but is cautious and strict regarding his own needs cannot be called stingy. One big reason for stinginess is that a person instead of regarding his wealth and resources to be a gift of God regards them to be the result of his ability and planning. For this reason, the sentiment of humility and gratefulness becomes dormant in him which is the real motive of graciousness and magnanimity.

A stingy person advises others to be stingy as well. The reason for this is that if others become gracious, his own stinginess is exposed. In order to hide this shortcoming, he wants that just as he is usurping the rights of others, other people too should follow suit so that no one can condemn him. It is a general principle that a person who is a coward urges others to cowardice as well so that his own cowardice is not exposed.

Secondly, they hide the bounty of God which He has blessed them with. This is a veiled psychological reference to rich misers. On the one hand, such people want to strike and maintain the awe of their leadership in the hearts of others, and, on the other hand, they also want that no one should rebuke them for not discharging their obligations. Thus to every acquaintance and every person who asks for their resources, they present a long list of their expenses, the losses they have incurred in their business, the wide-ranging nature of their responsibilities and the abundance of those who seek wealth and resources from them so that people may think that these people are indeed rich and generous but they are not in a position to do much; they are burdened with heavy responsibilities; hence even if they have an income of thousands and millions, they are not able to save anything for themselves. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 299)

This is an expression of sorrow adopted to direct the attention of the misers on their misfortune.

وَالَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ رِئَاءَ النَّاسِ وَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۗ وَمَن يَكُنِ الشَّيْطَانُ لَهُ قَرِينًا فَسَاءَ قَرِينًا
( 38 )   And [also] those who spend of their wealth to be seen by the people and believe not in Allah nor in the Last Day. And he to whom Satan is a companion - then evil is he as a companion.
A fault opposed to niggardliness, and equally opposed to true Charity, is to spend lavishly to be seen of men. It is mere hypocrisy: there is no love in it, either for Allah or for man.

Verses 39-42 Witnesses of the Rasools on the Day of Judgement:

اذَا عَلَيْهِمْ لَوْ آمَنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَأَنفَقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ بِهِمْ عَلِيمًا
( 39 )   And what [harm would come] upon them if they believed in Allah and the Last Day and spent out of what Allah provided for them? And Allah is ever, about them, Knowing.
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَظْلِمُ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ ۖ وَإِن تَكُ حَسَنَةً يُضَاعِفْهَا وَيُؤْتِ مِن لَّدُنْهُ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
( 40 )   Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom's weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Sustenance: physical, intellectual, spiritual-everything pertaining to life and growth. Our being is from Allah, and we must therefore spend ourselves freely for Allah. How can it be a burden? It is merely a response to the demand of our own healthy nature.

 فَكَيْفَ إِذَا جِئْنَا مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ بِشَهِيدٍ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ عَلَىٰ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ شَهِيدًا
( 41 )   So how [will it be] when We bring from every nation a witness and we bring you, [O Muhammad] against these [people] as a witness? 
The Prophet of each age will stand as a witness before God against his people; he will testify that he conveyed to them the true way of life, and showed them the right outlook and the fundamentals of moral conduct revealed to him by God. The testimony of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) will be to the same effect, and the Qur'an indicates that he will stand as a witness to the period beginning with his advent as a Prophet right through to the Day of Judgement.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Any little good of our own comes from the purity of our heart. Its results in the world are doubled and multiplied by Allah's grace and mercy; but an even greater reward comes from Him: His good pleasure, which brings us nearer to Him.

Each Prophet and Leader is a witness for his People and his contemporaries-for those who accept Allah, and against those who reject Him.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
The full nature of this bearing witness becomes evident from the bearing witness of Jesus (sws) as mentioned at the end of Surah al-Ma’idah. No doubt this is a mention of great rank and status for Prophet Muhammad (sws); however, a little deliberation shows that this is equally a mention of the great responsibility that he must fulfill. Thus, it is reported in some narratives that when Ibn Mas‘ud (rta) recited this verse in his presence, he was so overwhelmed that he could not restrain his tears; (Bukhari, nos. 4305, 4763; Muslim, no. 800).

يَوْمَئِذٍ يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَعَصَوُا الرَّسُولَ لَوْ تُسَوَّىٰ بِهِمُ الْأَرْضُ وَلَا يَكْتُمُونَ اللَّـهَ حَدِيثًا
( 42 )   That Day, those who disbelieved and disobeyed the Messenger will wish they could be covered by the earth. And they will not conceal from Allah a [single] statement.
Here we come to the end of Part I of the exegesis of Sürah An-Nisa' which mainly covered the rights of women and orphans and rule of inheritance.

In Part II, we will cover exegesis of verses 43 - 56 which follow the moral preparations (Part I) contain instructions for defense. First of all, the Muslims have been warned to be on their guard against the cunning machinations and vile practices of the local Jews who were hostile to the New Movement. This caution was necessary for removing some possible misunderstanding that might have arisen on account of the pre-Islamic alliance between the people of Al-Madinah and the Jews. 

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah An-Nisa' with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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