Surah An-Nisa’ Part 1 Ayat 1-10

The Virtues of Surah An-Nisa’, A Medinan Surah

Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said that Surat An-Nisa’ was revealed in Al-Madinah. Ibn Marduwyah recorded similar statements from Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr and Zayd bin Thabit. In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim recorded that Abdullah bin Masud said, “There are five Ayat in Surat An-Nisa’ that I would prefer to the life of this world and all that is in it,

“Surely, Allah wrongs not even the weight of an atom” (4:40)

“If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do” (4:31)

“Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills” (4:48)

“If they (hypocrites), when they had been unjust to themselves, had come to you” (4:64) and,

“And whoever does evil or wrongs himself, but afterwards seeks Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (4:110). (Al-Hakim 2:305)

Al-Hakim recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “Ask me about Surat An-Nisa’, for I learned the Qur’an when I was still young.” Al-Hakim said, “This Hadith is Sahih according to the criteria of the Two Sahihs, and they did not collect it.” (Al-Hakim 2:301)

 

{In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

1. O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his mate, and from them both He created many men and women, and have Taqwa of Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and revere the wombs. Surely, Allah is always watching over you.}

The Command to have Taqwa, a Reminder about Creation, and being Kind to Relatives

Allah commands His creatures to have Taqwa of Him by worshipping Him Alone without partners. He also reminds to them of His ability, in that He created them all from a single person, Adam, peace be unto him. “And from him He created his wife” Hawwa’ (Eve), who was created from Adam’s left rib, from his back while he was sleeping. When Adam woke up and saw Hawwa’, he liked her and had affection for her, and she felt the same toward him. An authentic Hadith states,

“Woman was created from a rib. Verily, the most curved portion of the rib is its upper part, so, if you should try to straighten it, you will break it, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:418)

Allah’s statement, “And from them both He created many men and women” means, Allah created from Adam and Hawwa’ many men and women and distributed them throughout the world in various shapes, characteristics, colors and languages. In the end, their gathering and return will be to Allah. Allah then said, “And have Taqwa of Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights) and revere the wombs” protect yourself from Allah by your acts of obedience to Him. Allah’s statement, “through Whom you demand your mutual (rights)” is in reference to when some people say, “I ask you by Allah, and then by the relation of the Rahim (the womb, i.e. my relationship to you)”, according to Ibrahim, Mujahid and Al-Hasan. (At-Tabari 7:519) Ad-Dahhak said; “Fear Allah Whom you invoke when you conduct transactions and contracts.” (At-Tabari 7:518) “And revere the womb by not cutting the relations of the womb, but keep and honor them”, as Ibn Abbas, Ikrimah, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi, and others have stated. (At-Tabari 7:521,522)

Allah’s statement, “Surely, Allah is always watching over you” means, He watches all your deeds and sees your every circumstance. In another Ayah, Allah said, “And Allah is Witness over all things.” (58:6). An authentic Hadith states,

“Worship Allah as if you see Him, for even though you cannot see Him, He sees you.” (Fath Al-Bari 1:140)

This part of the Ayah encourages having a sense of certainty that Allah is always watching, in a complete and perfect manner. Allah mentioned that He has created mankind from a single father and a single mother, so that they feel compassion for each other and are kind to the weaker among them. In his Sahih, Muslim recorded that Jarir bin Abdullah Al-Bajali said that a delegation from Mudar came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and he saw their state, wearing striped woolen clothes due to poverty. After the Zuhr prayer, the Messenger of Allah stood up and gave a speech in which he recited,

“O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord, Who created you from a single person” until the end of the Ayah. He also recited,

“O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the tomorrow” (59:1). He also encouraged them to give charity, saying,

“A man gave Sadaqah from his Dinar, from his Dirham, from his Sa of wheat, from his Sa of dates” until the end of the Hadith. (Muslim 2:705)

 

{2. And give unto orphans their property and do not exchange (your) bad things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by adding it) to your substance. Surely, this is a great sin.

3. And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the servants) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from Ta`ulu.

4. And give to the women (whom you marry) their Saduqat (or dowry) Nihlah (with a good heart), but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm.}

 

Protecting the Property of the Orphans

Allah commands that the property of the orphans be surrendered to them in full when they reach the age of adolescence, and He forbids using or confiscating any part of it. So He said, “and do not exchange (your) bad things for (their) good ones” Said bin Al-Musayyib and Az-Zuhri commented, “Do not substitute a weak animal of yours for a fat animal (of the orphans).” Ibrahim An-Nakhai and Ad-Dahhak commented, “Do not give something of bad quality for something of good quality.” (At-Tabari 7:525) As-Suddi said, “One of them (caretakers of orphans) would take a fat sheep from the orphan’s property and put in its place, a weak sheep of his, saying, ‘A sheep for a sheep.’ He would also take a good Dirham and exchange it for a fake Dirham, saying, ‘A Dirham for a Dirham.” (At-Tabari 7:526) Allah’s statement, “and devour not their substance to your substance” means, do not mix them together so that you eat up both, as Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Muqatil bin Hayyan, As-Suddi and Sufyan bin Hassin stated. (At-Tabari 7:528) Allah said, “Surely, this is a great sin” a major and substantial sin, according to Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 7:530) The meaning above is: adding their property to your property is a grave sin and a major mistake, so avoid it.

The Prohibition of Marrying Female Orphans Without Giving a Dowry

Allah said, “And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two” Allah commands, when one of you is the caretaker of a female orphan and he fears that he might not give her a dowry that is suitable for women of her status, he should marry other women, who are plenty as Allah has not restricted him. Al-Bukhari recorded that A’ishah said, “A man was taking care of a female orphan and he married her, although he did not desire to marry her. That girl’s money was mixed with his, and he was keeping her portion from her. Afterwards, this Ayah was revealed about his case, “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly” (Fath Al-Bari 8:87)

Al-Bukhari recorded that Urwah bin Az-Zubayr said that he asked A’ishah about the meaning of the statement of Allah, “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls.” She said, “O my nephew! This is about the orphan girl who lives with her guardian and shares his property. Her wealth and beauty may tempt him to marry her without giving her an adequate dowry which might have been given by another suitor. So, such guardians were forbidden to marry such orphan girls unless they treated them justly and gave them the most suitable dowry; otherwise they were ordered to marry woman besides them.” A’ishah further said, “After that verse, the people again asked the Messenger of Allah (about marriage with orphan girls), so Allah revealed the Ayah, “They ask your instruction concerning the women.” (4:12). She said, “Allah’s statement in this Ayah, “yet whom you desire to marry” (4:127) refers to the guardian who does not desire to marry an orphan girl under his supervision because she is neither wealthy nor beautiful. The guardians were forbidden to marry their orphan girls possessing property and beauty without being just to them, as they generally refrain from marrying them (when they are neither beautiful nor wealthy).” (Fath Al-Bari 8:87)

The Permission to Marry Four Women

Allah’s statement, “two or three, or four”, means, marry as many women as you like, other than the orphan girls, two, three or four. We should mention that Allah’s statement in another Ayah,

“Who made the angels messengers with wings, – two or three or four” (35:1),

does not mean that other angels do not have more than four wings, as there are proofs that some angels do have more wings. Yet, men are prohibited from marrying more than four wives, as the Ayah decrees, since the Ayah specifies what men are allowed of wives, as Ibn Abbas and the majority of scholars stated. If it were allowed for them to have more than four wives, the Ayah would have mentioned it. Imam Ahmad recorded that Salim said that his father said that Ghilan bin Salamah Ath-Thaqafi had ten wives when he became Muslim, and the Prophet said to him, “Choose any four of them (and divorce the rest).” During the reign of Umar, Ghilan divorced his remaining wives and divided his money between his children. When Umar heard news of this, he said to Ghilan, “I think that the devil has conveyed to your heart the news of your imminent death, from what the devil hears during his eavesdropping. It may as well be that you will not remain alive but for a little longer. By Allah! You will take back your wives and your money, or I will take possession of this all and will order that your grave be stoned as is the case with the grave of Abu Righal (from Thamud, who was saved from their fate because he was in the Sacred Area. But, when he left it, he was tormented like they were).” Ash-Shafi`i, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ad-Daraqutni and Al-Bayhaqi collected this Hadith up to the Prophet’s statement, “Choose any four of them.” Only Ahmad collected the full version of this Hadith. (Ahmad 2:14)

Therefore, had it been allowed for men to marry more than four women at the same time, the Prophet would have allowed Ghilan to keep more than four of his wives since they all embraced Islam with him. When the Prophet commanded him to keep just four of them and divorce the rest, this indicated that men are not allowed to keep more than four wives at a time under any circumstances. If this is the case concerning those who already had more than four wives upon embracing Islam, then this ruling applies even more so to marrying more than four.

Marrying Only One Wife When One Fears He Might not do Justice to His Wives

Allah’s statement, “But if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or what your right hands possess.” The Ayah commands, if you fear that you will not be able to do justice between your wives by marrying more than one, then marry only one wife, or satisfy yourself with only female captives, for it is not obligatory to treat them equally, rather it is recommended. So if one does so, that is good, and if not, there is no harm on him. In another Ayah, Allah said,

“You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire” (4:129).

Allah said, “That is nearer to prevent you from Ta`ulu”, meaning, from doing injustice. Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Marduwyah and Abu Hatim Ibn Hibban, in his Sahih, recorded that A’ishah said that, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said that the Ayah “That is nearer to prevent you from Ta`ulu”, means, from doing injustice. (Ibn Hibban 6:134) However, Ibn Abi Hatim said that his father said that this Hadith to the Prophet is a mistake, for it should be attributed to A’ishah not the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Giving the Dowry is Obligatory

Ali bin Abi Talhah reported Ibn Abbas saying, Nihlah, in Allah’s statement, “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Saduqat Nihlah” refers to the dowry. (At-Tabari 7:553) Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated from Az-Zuhri that Urwah said that A’ishah said that ‘Nihlah’ means ‘obligatory’. Muqatil, Qatadah and Ibn Jurayj said, `Nihlah’ means `obligatory’ Ibn Jurayj added: ‘specified.’ (At-Tabari 7:553) Ibn Zayd said, “In Arabic, Nihlah, refers to what is necessary. So Allah is commanding: Do not marry unless you give your wife something that is her right. No person after the Prophet is allowed to marry a woman except with the required dowry, nor by giving false promises about the dowry (intended).” (At-Tabari 7:553) Therefore, the man is required to pay a dowry to his wife with a good heart, just as he gives a gift with a good heart. If the wife gives him part or all of that dowry with a good heart, her husband is allowed to take it, as it is lawful for him in this case. This is why Allah said afterwards, “But if they, of their own pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm.”

 

{5. And give not unto the unwise your wealth which Allah has made a means of support for you, but feed and clothe them therewith, and speak to them words of kindness and justice.

6. And test orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then you find sound judgment in them, release their property to them, but consume it not wastefully and hastily, fearing that they should grow up. And whoever among guardians is rich, he should take no wages, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable (according to his work). And when you release their property to them, take a witness in their presence; and Allah is All-Sufficient in taking account.}

Holding the Property of the Unwise in Escrow

Allah prohibited giving the unwise the freedom to do as they wish with wealth, which Allah has made as a means of support for people. This ruling sometimes applies because of being young, as young people are incapable of making wise decisions. It also applies in cases of insanity, erratic behavior and having a weak intellect or religious practice. It applies in cases of bankruptcy, when the debtors ask that the property of a bankrupt person is put in escrow, when his debts cannot be paid off with his money. Ad-Dahhak reported that Ibn Abbas said that Allah’s statement, “And give not unto the unwise your property” refers to children and women. (At-Tabari 7:562) Similar was also said by Ibn Masud, Al-Hakam bin Uyaynah, Al-Hasan and Ad-Dahhak: “Women and boys.” (At-Tabari 7:562) Said bin Jubayr said that ‘the unwise’ refers to the orphans. (At-Tabari 7:563) Mujahid, Ikrimah and Qatadah said; “They are women.” (At-Tabari 7:564)

Spending on the Unwise with Fairness

Allah said, “but feed and clothe them therewith, and speak to them words of kindness and justice.” Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn Abbas commented, “Do not give your wealth, what Allah has made you responsible for and made a means of sustenance to you, to your wife or children. Rather, hold on to your money, take care of it, and be the one who spends on them for clothes, food and provision.” (At-Tabari 7:570) Mujahid said that the Ayah, “and speak to them words of kindness and justice” refers to kindness and keeping good relations. This honorable Ayah commands kind treatment, in deed, with family and those under one’s care. One should spend on them for clothes and provisions, and be good to them, such as saying good words to them.

Giving back the Property of the orphans When they Reach Adulthood

Allah said, “And test orphans” meaning, test their intelligence, as Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan stated. “until they reach the age of marriage”, the age of puberty, according to Mujahid. The age of puberty according to the majority of scholars comes when the child has a wet dream.

In his Sunan, Abu Dawud recorded that Ali said, “I memorized these words from the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,

“There is no orphan after the age of puberty nor vowing to be silent throughout the day to the night.” (Abu Dawud 3:293)

In another Hadith, A’ishah and other Companions said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The pen does not record the deeds of three persons: the child until the age of puberty, the sleeping person until waking up, and the senile until sane.” (Abu Dawud 4:558-560)

Or, the age of fifteen is considered the age of adolescence. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn Umar said, “I was presented in front of the Prophet on the eve of the battle of Uhud, while I was fourteen years of age, and he did not allow me to take part in that battle. But I was presented in front of him on the eve of the battle of Al-Khandaq (The Trench) when I was fifteen years old, and he allowed me (to join that battle).” Umar bin Abdul-Aziz commented when this Hadith reached him, “This is the difference between a child and an adult.” (Al-Bukhari no.2664)

There is a difference of opinion over whether pubic hair is considered a sign of adulthood, and the correct opinion is that it is. The Sunnah supports this view, according to a Hadith collected by Imam Ahmad from Atiyah Al-Qurazi who said, ‘We were presented to the Prophet on the day of Qurizah, whoever had pubic hair was killed, whoever did not was left free to go, I was one of those who did not, so I was left free.” The Four Sunan compilers also recorded similar to it. (Abu Dawud 4:561)

Allah’s statement, “if then you find sound judgment in them, release their property to them” Said bin Jubayr said that this portion of the Ayah means, when you find them to be good in the religion and wise with their money. Similar was reported from Ibn Abbas, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and others among the Imams. (At-Tabari 7:576) The scholars of Fiqh stated that when the child becomes good in the religion and wise concerning with money, then the money that his caretaker was keeping for him should be surrendered to him.

Poor Caretakers are Allowed to Wisely Spend from the Money of the Orphan Under Their Care, to Compensate for their Work

Allah said, “But consume it not wastefully and hastily, fearing that they should grow up.” Allah commands that the money of the orphan should not be spent unnecessarily, “Wastefully and hastily” for fear they might grow up. Allah also commands, “And whoever among guardians is rich, he should take no wages” Hence, the guardian who is rich and does not need the orphan’s money, should not take any of it as wages, “but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable.”

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that A’ishah said, “This Ayah, “And whoever among guardians is rich, he should take no wages, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable” was revealed about the guardian of the orphan and pertains to whatever work he does for the orphan’s estate. ” (At-Tabari 7:593) Al-Bukhari also collected this Hadith. (Fath Al-Bari 8:89) Imam Ahmad recorded that Amr bin Shuayb said that his father told him that a man asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, “I do not have money, but I have an orphan under my care.” The Messenger said,

“Eat from your orphan’s wealth without extravagance or wastefulness, or mixing it, and without saving your money by spending his.” (Ahmad 3:186)

Allah said, “And when you release their property to them” after they become adults, and you see that they are wise, then, “take a witness in their presence” Allah commands the guardians of orphans to surrender the property of the orphans who become consenting adults, in the presence of witnesses, so that none of them denies the fact that he received his money. Allah said next, “and Allah is All-Sufficient in taking account” meaning, Allah is sufficient as Witness, Reckoner and Watcher over their work for orphans, and when they surrender their money to them, whether their property was complete and whole, or deficient and less. Indeed, Allah knows all of that. In his Sahih, Muslim recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,

“O Abu Dharr! Verily, you are weak, and I love for you what I love for myself. Do not become a leader of two nor assume guardianship of an orphan’s property.” (Muslim 3:1458)

 

{7. There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest in relation, whether the property be small or large — a legal share.

8. And when the relatives, and the orphans, and the poor are present at the time of division, give them from the property, and speak to them words of kindness and justice.

9. And let those (executors and guardians) have the same fear in their minds as they would have for their own, if they had left weak offspring behind. So, let them have Taqwa of Allah and speak truthfully.

10. Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire!}

 

The Neccessity of Surrendering the Inheritance According to the Portions that Allah Ordained

Said bin Jubayr and Qatadah said, “The idolators used to give adult men a share of inheritance and deprive women and children of it. Allah revealed, “There is a share for men from what is left by parents and those nearest in relation.’‘ Therefore, everyone is equal in Allah’s decision to inherit, even though their shares vary according to the degree of their relationship to the deceased, whether being a relative, spouse, etc. Ibn Marduwyah reported that Jabir said, “Umm Kujjah came to the Messenger of Allah and said to him, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I have two daughters whose father died, and they do not own anything.’ So Allah revealed, “There is a share for men from what is left by parents and those nearest in relation.” We will mention this Hadith when explaining the two Ayat about inheritance. Allah knows best.

Allah said, “are present at the time of division” those who do not have a share in the inheritance, “and the orphans and the poor” are also present upon dividing the inheritance, give them a share of the inheritance. Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abbas said that the Ayah, “And when the relatives and the orphans and the poor are present at the time of division” was not abrogated. Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn Abbas said that this Ayah still applies and should be implemented. (At-Tabari 8:8) Ath-Thawri said that Ibn Abi Najih narrated from Mujahid that implementing this Ayah, “Is required from those who have anything to inherit, paid from whatever portions their hearts are satisfied with giving away.”  (At-Tabari 8:8) Ibn Sirin, Said bin Jubayr, Makhul, Ibrahim An-Nakhai, Ata’ bin Abi Rabah, Az-Zuhri and Yahya bin Yamar said this payment is obligatory. Others say that this refers to the bequeathal at the time of death. And others say that it was abrogated. Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said that this Ayah, “And when are present at the time of division” refers to divisions of inheritance. So, when poor relatives, who are ineligible for inheritance, orphans, and the poor attend the division of the inheritance, which is sometimes substantial, their hearts will feel eager to have a share, seeing each eligible person assuming his share; while they are desperate, yet are not given anything. Allah the Most Kind, Most Compassionate, commands that they should have a share in the inheritance as an act of kindness, charity, compassion and mercy for them.

Observing Fairness in the Will

Allah said, “And let those have the same fear in their minds as they would have for their own, if they had left behind…” Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said that this part of the Ayah, “Refers to a man who is near death and he dictates a will and testament that harms some of the rightful inheritors. Allah commands whoever hears such will to fear Allah, and direct the dying man to do what is right and to be fair, being as eager to protect the inheritors of the dying man as he would be with his own.” (At-Tabari 8:19)

The Two Sahihs record that when the Messenger of Allah visited Sad bin Abi Waqqas during an illness he suffered from, Sad said to the Messenger, “O Messenger of Allah! I am wealthy and have no inheritors except a daughter. Should I give two-thirds of my property in charity?” He said, “No.” Sad asked, “Half?” He said, “No.” Sad said, “One-third?” The Prophet said, “One-third, and even one-third is too much.” The Messenger of Allah then said, “You’d better leave your inheritors wealthy rather than leaving them poor, begging from others.” (Fath Al-Bari 5:427)

A Stern warning Against Those Who Use Up the Orphan’s Wealth

It was also said that the Ayah, “consume it not wastefully and hastily, fearing that they should grow up” means, let them have Taqwa of Allah when taking care of the orphan’s wealth, as Ibn Jarir recorded from Al-Awfi who reported this explanation from Ibn Abbas. This is a sound opinion that is supported by the warning that follows against consuming the orphan’s wealth unjustly. In this case, the meaning becomes: Just as you would want your offspring to be treated fairly after you, then treat other people’s offspring fairly when you are given the responsibility of caring for them. Allah proclaims that those who unjustly consume the wealth of orphans, will be eating fire into their stomach, this is why Allah said, “Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire!” meaning, when you consume the orphan’s wealth without a right, then you are only consuming fire, which will kindle in your stomach on the Day of Resurrection.

It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Avoid the seven great destructive sins.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! What are they?” He said, “To join others in worship along with Allah, magic, to kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause, to consume interest, to consume an orphan’s property, to turn your back to the enemy and flee from the battlefield at the time of fighting, and to accuse chaste women who never even think of anything harmful to their chastity being good believers.” (Fath Al-Bari 5:462, Muslim 1:92)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir Vol 2 Pages 367-387

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