Surah An-Nisa’ Part 4 Ayat 32-39

{32. And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allah of His bounty. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.}

Do Not Wish for the Things Which Allah has Made Some Others to Excel In

Imam Ahmad recorded that Umm Salamah said, “O Messenger of Allah! Men go to battle, but we do not go to battle, and we earn one-half of the inheritance (that men get).” Allah sent down, ”And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others”. (Ahmad 6:322)

Allah’s statement, ”For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned,” indicates, according to Ibn Jarir, that each person will earn his wages for his works, a reward if his deeds are good, and punishment if his deeds are evil. It was also reported that this Ayah is talking about inheritance, indicating the fact that each person will get his due share of the inheritance, as Al-Walibi reported from Ibn Abbas. Allah then directed the servants to what benefits them, ”and ask Allah of His Bounty.” Therefore, the Ayah states, “Do not wish for what other people were endowed with over you, for this is a decision that will come to pass, and wishing does not change its decree. However, ask Me of My favor and I will grant it to you, for I Am Most Generous and Most Giving.” Allah then said, ”Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything” meaning, Allah knows who deserves this life, and so He gives him riches, and whoever deserves poverty, He makes him poor. He also knows who deserves the Hereafter, and He directs him to perform the deeds that will help him to besucessful in it, and whoever deserves failure, He prevents him from achieving righteousness and what leads to it. Hence, Allah said, ”Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.”

 

{33. And to everyone, We have appointed Mawali of that left by parents and relatives. To those also with whom you have made a pledge (brotherhood), give them their due portion (by wills). Truly, Allah is Ever a Witness over all things.}

Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Said bin Jubayr, Abu Salih, Qat adah, Zayd bin Aslam, As-Suddi, Ad-Dahhak, Muqat il bin Hayyan, and others said that Allah’s statement, ”And to everyone, We have appointed Mawali” means, “Heirs.”  (At-Tabari 8:270-271) Ibn Abbas was also reported to have said that Mawali refers to relatives. Ibn Jarir commented, “The Arabs call the cousin a Mawla.” Ibn Jarir continued, “Allah’s statement, ”of that (property) left by parents and relatives” means, from what he inherited from his parents and family members. Therefore, the meaning of the Ayah becomes: ‘To all of you, O people, We appointed relatives (such as children) who will later inherit what you inherited from your own parents and relatives.” Allah’s statement, ”To those also with whom you have made a pledge (brotherhood), give them their due portion.” means, “Those with whom you have a pledge of brotherhood, give them their share of inheritance, thus fulfilling the ratified pledges that you gave them. Allah has witnessed all of you when you gave these pledges and promises.” This practice was followed in the beginning of Islam, but was later on abrogated when Muslims were commanded to fulfill the pledges (brotherhood) they had already given, but to refrain from making any new pledges after that.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abbas said, And to everyone, We have appointed Mawali” meaning, heirs; ”To those also with whom you have made a pledge (brotherhood)” When the emigrants came to Al-Madinah, the emigrant would inherit from the Ansari, while the latter’s relatives would not inherit from him because of the bond of brotherhood which the Prophet established between them ”the emigrants and the Ansar”. When the verse, ”And to everyone We have appointed Mawali” was revealed, it cancelled ‘‘the pledge of brotherhood regarding inheritance.” Then he said, “The verse, ‘‘To those also with whom you have made a pledge (brotherhood), give them their due portion.” remained valid for cases of co-operation and mutual advice, while the matter of inheritance was excluded and it became permissible to assign something in one’s will to the person who had the right of inheriting before.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:96)

 

{34. Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are Qanitat, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard. As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct, admonish them, and abandon them in their beds, and beat them, but if they return to obedience, do not seek a means against them. Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.}

Allah said, ”Men are the protectors and maintainers of women,” meaning, the man is responsible for the woman, and he is her maintainer, caretaker and leader who disciplines her if she deviates, ”because Allah has made one of them to excel the other” meaning, because men excel over women and are better than them for certain tasks. This is why prophethood was exclusive of men, as well as other important positions of leadership. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”People who appoint a woman to be their leader, will never achieve success.” (Fath Al-Bari 7:732)

Such is the case with appointing women as judges or on other positions of leadership, ”and because they spend from their means” meaning the dowry, expenditures and various expenses that Allah ordained in His Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger for men to spend on women. For these reasons it is suitable that he is appointed her maintainer, just as Allah said, ”But men have a degree (of responsibility) over them.”

Qualities of the Righteous Wife

Allah said, ”Therefore, the righteous” women, “are Qanitat” obedient to their husbands, as Ibn Abbas and others stated. (At-Tabari 8:294) ”and guard in the husband’s absence” As-Suddi and others said that it means she protects her honor and her husband’s property when he is absent, and Allah’s statement, ”what Allah orders them to guard” means, the protected [husband] is the one whom Allah protects. Ibn Jarir recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”The best women is she who when you look at her, she pleases you, when you command her she obeys you, and when you are absent, she protects her honor and your property.”

Then, the Messenger of Allah recited the Ayah, ”Men are the protectors and maintainers of women,” until its end. (At-Tabari 8:295)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”If the woman prayed her five daily prayers, fasted her month, protected her chastity and obeyed her husband, she will be told, ‘Enter Paradise from any of its doors you wish.” (Ahmad 1:191)

Dealing with the Wife’s Ill-Conduct

Allah said, ”As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct,” meaning, the woman from whom you see ill conduct with her husband, such as when she acts as if she is above her husband, disobeys him, ignores him, dislikes him, and so forth. When these signs appear in a woman, her husband should advise her and remind her of Allah’s torment if she disobeys him. Indeed, Allah ordered the wife to obey her husband and prohibited her from disobeying him, because of the enormity of his rights and all that he does for her. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”If I were to command anyone to prostrate before anyone, I would have commanded the wife to prostrate before her husband, because of the enormity of his right upon her.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 4:323)

Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

 ”If the man asks his wife to come to his bed and she declines, the angels will keep cursing her until the morning.” (Fath Al-Bari 9:205)

Muslim recorded it with the wording,

”If the wife goes to sleep while ignoring her husband’s bed, the angels will keep cursing her until the morning.” (Muslim 2:1059)

This is why Allah said, ”As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct, admonish them (first).” Allah’s statement, ”abandon them in their beds,” Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said “The abandonment refers to not having intercourse with her, to lie on her bed with his back to her.” (At-Tabari 8:302) Several others said similarly. As-Suddi, Ad-Dahhak, Ikrimah, and Ibn Abbas, in another narration, added, “Not to speak with her or talk to her.” (At-Tabari 8:302-304) The Sunan and Musnad compilers recorded that Muawiyah bin Haydah Al-Qushayri said, “O Allah’s Messenger! What is the right that the wife of one of us has on him?” The Prophet said,

”To feed her when you eat, cloth her when you buy clothes for yourself, refrain from striking her face or cursing her, and to not abandon her, except in the house.” (Abu Dawud 2:606)

Allah’s statement, ”beat them” means, if advice and ignoring her in the bed do not produce the desired results, you are allowed to discipline the wife, without severe beating. Muslim recorded that Jabir said that during the Farewell Hajj, the Prophet said;

”Fear Allah regarding women, for they are your assistants. You have the right on them that they do not allow any person whom you dislike to step on your mat. However, if they do that, you are allowed to discipline them lightly. They have a right on you that you provide them with their provision and clothes, in a reasonable manner.” (Muslim 8:886)

Ibn Abbas and several others said that the Ayah refers to a beating that is not violent. (At-Tabari 8:314) Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it means, a beating that is not severe. (At-Tabari 8:316)

When the Wife Obeys Her Husband, Means of Annoyance Against Her are Prohibited

Allah said, ”but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance)” meaning, when the wife obeys her husband in all that Allah has allowed, then no means of annoyance from the husband are allowed against his wife. Therefore, in this case, the husband does not have the right to beat her or shun her bed. Allah’s statement, ”Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great” reminds men that if they transgress against their wives without justification, then Allah, the Ever Most High, Most Great, is their Protector, and He will exert revenge on those who transgress against their wives and deal with them unjustly.

{35. If you fear a breach between the two, appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from her’s; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Ever All-Knower, Well-Acquainted with all things.}

Appointing Two Arbitrators When the Possibility of Estrangement Between Husband and Wife Occurs

Allah first mentioned the case of rebellion on the part of the wife. He then mentioned the case of estrangement and alienation between the two spouses. Allah said, ”If you fear a breach between the two, appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family.” The Fuqaha’ (scholars of Fiqh) say that when estrangement occurs between the husband and wife, the judge refers them to a trusted person who examines their case in order to stop any wrongs commited between them. If the matter continues or worsens, the judge sends a trustworthy person from the woman’s family and a trustworthy person from the man’s family to meet with them and examine their case to determine whether it is best for them to part or to remain together. Allah gives preference to staying together, and this is why Allah said, ”if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation.”

Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “Allah commands that a righteous man from the husband’s side of the family and the wife’s side of the family are appointed, so that they find out who among the spouses is in the wrong. If the man is in the wrong, they prevent him from his wife, and he pays some restitution. If the wife is in the wrong, she remains with her husband, and he does not pay any restitution. If the arbitrators decide that the marriage should remain intact or be dissolved, then their decision is upheld. If they decide that the marriage remains intact, but one of the spouses disagrees while the other agrees, and one of them dies, then the one who agreed inherits from the other, while the spouse who did not agree does not inherit from the spouse who agreed.” This was collected by Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 8:325)

Shaykh Abu Umar bin Abdul-Barr said, “The scholars agree that when the two arbitrators disagree, then the opinion that dissolves the marriage will not be adopted. They also agree that the decision of the arbitrators is binding, even if the two spouses did not appoint them as agents. This is the case if it is decided that they should stay together, but they disagree whether it is binding or not when they decide for separation.” Then he mentioned that the majority holdsthe view that the decision is still binding, even if they did not appoint them to make any decision.

 

{36. Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful.}

The Order to Worship Allah Alone and to Be Dutiful to Parents

Allah orders that He be worshipped Alone without partners, because He Alone is the Creator and Sustainer Who sends His favors and bounties on His creation in all situations and instances. Therefore He deserves to be singled out, without associating anything or anyone from His creation with Him in worship. Indeed, the Prophet said to Muadh,

”Do you know what Allah’s right on His servants is?”

Muadh replied, “Allah and His Messenger know better.” He said, 

”That they should worship Him and should not worship any others with Him.”

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then said,

”Do you know what the right of the servants on Allah is if they do this? He should not punish them.” (Fath Al-Bari 13:359)

Allah then commands the servants to be dutiful to their parents, for Allah made parents the reason for the servants to come to existence, after they did not exist. Allah joins the order to worship Him with being dutiful to parents in many places. For example, He said, ”give thanks to Me and to your parents,” and, ”And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents.” After Allah ordained being dutiful to parents, He ordained kind treatment of relatives, males and females. A Hadith states,

”Charity given to the poor is Sadaqah, while charity given to relatives is both Sadaqah and Silah (keeping the relations).” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 3:324)

Allah then said, ”orphans”, because they lost their caretakers who would spend on them. So Allah commands that the orphans be treated with kindness and compassion. Allah then said, ”Al-Masakin (the poor)” who have various needs and cannot find what sustains these needs. Therefore, Allah commands they should be helped in acquiring their needs in a sufficient manner that will end their inadequacy. We will further elaborate on the matter of the destitute and the poor in Surah Bara’h (9:60).

The Right of the Neighbour

Allah said, ”the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger” Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn Abbas said that, ”the neighbour who is near of kin” means, “The neighbor who is also a relative”, while, ”The neighbor who is a stranger” means, “Who is not a relative.” (At-Tabari 8:338)  Mujahid was also reported to have said that Allah’s statement, ”the neighbor who is a stranger” means, “The companion during travel.” (At-Tabari 8:341) There are many Hadiths that command kind treatment to the neighbors, and we will mention some of them here with Allah’s help.

The First Hadith

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah bin Umar said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”Jibril kept reminding of the neighbor’s right, until I thought that he was going to give him a share of the inheritance.” (Ahmad 2:85)

The Two Sahihs recorded this Hadith. (Fath Al-Bari 10:455)

The Second Hadith

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah bin Amr said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”Jibril kept reminding me of the neighbor’s right, until I thought he was going to appoint a share of the inheritance for him.” (Ahmad 2:160)

The Third Hadith

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-As said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”The best companions according to Allah are those who are the best with their friends, and the best neighbours according to Allah are the best with their neighbours.” (Ahmad 2:167)

The Fourth Hadith

Imam Ahmad recorded that Al-Miqdad bin Al-Aswad said that the Messenger of Allah asked his Companions,

”What do you say about adultery?”

They said, “It is prohibited, for Allah and His Messenger have prohibited it. So it is forbidden until the Day of Resurrection.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

‘For a man to commit adultery with his neighbor’s wife is worse than if he commits adultery with ten women.” He then said, 

”What do you say about theft?” They said, “It is prohibited, for Allah and His Messenger prohibited it.” He said,

”If a man steals from his neighbor, it is worse for him than stealing from ten homes.” (Ahmad 6:8)

A similar Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs, Ibn Masud said, “I asked, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! What is the greatest sin?’ He said,

”To make a rival for Allah while He Alone created you.” I said, ‘Then?’ He said,

”To kill your offspring for fear that he might share your food with you.” I said, ‘Then?’ He said,

‘To commit adultery with your neighbor’s wife.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:350)

The Fifth Hadith

Imam Ahmad recorded that A’ishah asked the Messenger of Allah, “I have two neighbors, so whom among them should I give my gift?” He said, ”The neighbor whose door is the closest to you.” (Al-Bukhari 6020)

We will elaborate on this subject in the Tafsir of Surah Bara’h, Allah willing and upon Him we depend.

Being Kind to Slaves and Servants

Allah said, ”and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess,” this is an order to be kind to them because they are weak, being held as captives by others. An authentic Hadith records that during the illness that preceded his death, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, continued advising his Ummah:

”(Protect) the prayer, (protect) the prayer, and (those slaves) whom your hands possess.” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 4:258)

He was repeating it until his tongue was still. Imam Ahmad recorded that Al-Miqdam bin Madykarib said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”What you feed yourself is a Sadaqah (charity) for you, what you feed your children is Sadaqah for you, what you feed your wife is Sadaqah for you and what you feed your servant is Sadaqah for you.” (Ahmad 4:131)

Abdullah bin Amr said to a caretaker of his, “Did you give the slaves their food yet?” He said, “No.” Ibn Amr said, “Go and give it to them, for the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”It is enough sin for someone to prevent whomever he is responsible for from getting their food.” (Muslim:692)

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“The slave has the right to have food, clothing and to only be required to perform what he can bear of work.” (Muslim 3:1284)

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“When your servant brings meals to one of you, if he does not let him sit and share the meal, then he should at least give him a mouthful or two mouthfuls of that meal or a meal or two, for he has prepared it.” (Fath Al-Bari 5:214)

Allah Does Not Like the Arrogant

Allah said, ”Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful.” meaning, one who is proud and arrogant, insolent and boasts to others. He thinks that he is better than other people, thus thinking high of himself, even though he is insignificant to Allah and hated by people. Mujahid said that Allah’s statement, ”Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud” means arrogant, while, ”boastful” means boasting about what he has, while he does not thank Allah. This Ayah indicates that such a person boasts with people about the bounty that Allah has given him, but he is actually ungrateful to Allah for this bounty. Ibn Jarir recorded that Abdullah bin Waqid Abu Raja Al-Harawi said, “You will find that those who are mean are also proud and boasting. He then recited, ”and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess” You will find that he who is undutiful ”to parents” is also arrogant, and deprived. He then recited, ”And dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, deprived.” Once a man asked the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, “O Messenger of Allah, advise me.’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”Avoid lengthening the dress (below the ankles), for this practice is from arrogance. Verily, Allah does not like arrogance.” (Ahmad 5:64)

 

{37. Those who are stingy and encourage people to be stingy and hide what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounties. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a disgraceful torment.

38. And (also) those who spend of their wealth to be seen of men, and believe not in Allah and the Last Day, and whoever takes Shaytan as an intimate; then what a dreadful intimate he has!

39. And what loss have they if they had believed in Allah and in the Last Day, and they spend out of what Allah has given them for sustenance. And Allah is Ever All-Knower of them.}

The Censure of Stingy Behaviour

Allah chastises the stingy behavior of those who refuse to spend their money for what Allah ordered them, such as being kind to parents and compassionate to relatives, orphans, the poor, the relative who is also a neighbor, the companion during travel, the needy wayfarer, the slaves and servants. Such people do not give Allah’s right from their wealth, and they assist in the spread of stingy behavior. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“What disease is more serious than being stingy?” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 83)

He also said, “Beware of being stingy, for it destroyed those who were before you, as it encouraged them to cut their relations and they did, and it encouraged them to commit sin and they did.” (Abu Dawud 2:324)

Allah said, “and hide what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounties” Therefore, the miser is ungrateful for Allah’s favor, for its effect does not appear on him, whether in his food, clothes or what he gives. Similarly, Allah said, “Verily, man is ungrateful to his Lord. And to that he bears witness.” by his manners and conduct, “And verily, he is violent in the love of wealth.” Allah said, “and hide what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounties” and this is why He threatened them, “And We have prepared for the disbelievers a disgraceful torment.” Kufr means to cover something. Therefore, the Bakhil (miser) covers the favors that Allah has blessed him with, meaning he does not spread those favors. So he is described by the term Kafir (ungrateful) regarding the favors that Allah granted him. A Hadith states that,

“When Allah grants a servant a favor, He likes that its effect appears on him.” (At-Tabarani in Al-Kabir 18:135)

Some of the Salaf stated that this Ayah [4:37] is describing the Jews who hid the knowledge they had about the description of Muhammad, and there is no doubt that the general meaning of the Ayah includes this. The apparent wording for this Ayah indicates that it is talking about being stingy with money, even though miserly conduct with knowledge is also included. The Ayah talks about spending on relatives and the weak, just as the Ayah after it, “And (also) those who spend of their wealth to be seen of men,” Allah first mentions the punished misers who do not spend, then He mentions those who spend to show off to gain the reputation that they are generous, not for the Face of Allah. A Hadith states that the first three persons on whom the fire will feed are a scholar, a fighter and a spender who shows off with their actions. For instance,

“The wealthy will say, “I did not leave any area that You like to be spent on, but I spent on it in Your cause.” Allah will say, “You lie, you only did that so that it is said, ‘He is generous.’ And it was said…”

meaning you acquired your reward in the life, and this is indeed what you sought with your action. This is why Allah said, “and believe not in Allah and the Last Day” meaning, it is Shaytan who lured them to commit this evil action, instead of performing the good deed as it should be performed. Shaytan encouraged, excited and lured them by making the evil appear good, “And whoever takes Shaytan as an intimate; then what a dreadful intimate he has!” Allah then said, “And what loss have they if they had believed in Allah and in the Last Day, and they spend out of what Allah has given them for sustenance” This Ayah means, what harm would it cause them if they believe in Allah, go on the righteous path, replace showing off with sincerity, have faith in Allah, and await His promise in the Hereafter, for those who do good and spend what He has given them on what He likes and is pleased with. Allah’s statement: “And Allah is Ever All-Knower of them” means, He has perfect knowledge of their intentions, whether good or evil. Indeed, Allah knows those who deserve success, and He grants them success and guidance, directing them to perform righteous actions that will earn them His pleasure. He also knows those who deserve failure and expulsion from His great mercy, which amounts to utter failure in this life and the Hereafter for them, we seek refuge in Allah from this evil end.

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