English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
Chapter 24: An-Nur — The Light (Revealed at Madinah: 9 sections, 64 verses)
Section 4 (Verses 24:27–24:34): Preventive Measures
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لَا تَدۡخُلُوۡا بُیُوۡتًا غَیۡرَ بُیُوۡتِکُمۡ حَتّٰی تَسۡتَاۡنِسُوۡا وَ تُسَلِّمُوۡا عَلٰۤی اَہۡلِہَا ؕ ذٰلِکُمۡ خَیۡرٌ لَّکُمۡ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَذَکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۲۷﴾
24:27 O you who believe, do not enter houses other than your own houses, until you have asked permission and greeted their inhabitants. This is better for you that you may be mindful.1
فَاِنۡ لَّمۡ تَجِدُوۡا فِیۡہَاۤ اَحَدًا فَلَا تَدۡخُلُوۡہَا حَتّٰی یُؤۡذَنَ لَکُمۡ ۚ وَ اِنۡ قِیۡلَ لَکُمُ ارۡجِعُوۡا فَارۡجِعُوۡا ہُوَ اَزۡکٰی لَکُمۡ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۸﴾
24:28 But if you find no one therein, do not enter them, until permission is given to you; and if it is said to you, Go back, then go back; this is purer for you. And Allah is Knower of what you do.
لَیۡسَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ جُنَاحٌ اَنۡ تَدۡخُلُوۡا بُیُوۡتًا غَیۡرَ مَسۡکُوۡنَۃٍ فِیۡہَا مَتَاعٌ لَّکُمۡ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یَعۡلَمُ مَا تُبۡدُوۡنَ وَ مَا تَکۡتُمُوۡنَ ﴿۲۹﴾
24:29 It is no sin for you to enter uninhabited houses in which you have your provisions. And Allah knows what you do openly and what you hide.
قُلۡ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ یَغُضُّوۡا مِنۡ اَبۡصَارِہِمۡ وَ یَحۡفَظُوۡا فُرُوۡجَہُمۡ ؕ ذٰلِکَ اَزۡکٰی لَہُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ خَبِیۡرٌۢ بِمَا یَصۡنَعُوۡنَ ﴿۳۰﴾
24:30 Say to the believing men that they lower their gaze and restrain their sexual passions. That is purer for them. Surely Allah is Aware of what they do.2
وَ قُلۡ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنٰتِ یَغۡضُضۡنَ مِنۡ اَبۡصَارِہِنَّ وَ یَحۡفَظۡنَ فُرُوۡجَہُنَّ وَ لَا یُبۡدِیۡنَ زِیۡنَتَہُنَّ اِلَّا مَا ظَہَرَ مِنۡہَا وَ لۡیَضۡرِبۡنَ بِخُمُرِہِنَّ عَلٰی جُیُوۡبِہِنَّ ۪ وَ لَا یُبۡدِیۡنَ زِیۡنَتَہُنَّ اِلَّا لِبُعُوۡلَتِہِنَّ اَوۡ اٰبَآئِہِنَّ اَوۡ اٰبَآءِ بُعُوۡلَتِہِنَّ اَوۡ اَبۡنَآئِہِنَّ اَوۡ اَبۡنَآءِ بُعُوۡلَتِہِنَّ اَوۡ اِخۡوَانِہِنَّ اَوۡ بَنِیۡۤ اِخۡوَانِہِنَّ اَوۡ بَنِیۡۤ اَخَوٰتِہِنَّ اَوۡ نِسَآئِہِنَّ اَوۡ مَا مَلَکَتۡ اَیۡمَانُہُنَّ اَوِ التّٰبِعِیۡنَ غَیۡرِ اُولِی الۡاِرۡبَۃِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ اَوِ الطِّفۡلِ الَّذِیۡنَ لَمۡ یَظۡہَرُوۡا عَلٰی عَوۡرٰتِ النِّسَآءِ ۪ وَ لَا یَضۡرِبۡنَ بِاَرۡجُلِہِنَّ لِیُعۡلَمَ مَا یُخۡفِیۡنَ مِنۡ زِیۡنَتِہِنَّ ؕ وَ تُوۡبُوۡۤا اِلَی اللّٰہِ جَمِیۡعًا اَیُّہَ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تُفۡلِحُوۡنَ ﴿۳۱﴾
24:31 And say to the believing women that they lower their gaze and restrain their sexual passions and do not display their adornment except what appears of it.3 And they should wear their head-coverings over their bosoms.4 And they should not display their adornment except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or harmless male servants,5 or the children who do not know women’s nakedness. And they should not strike their feet so that the adornment that they hide may be known. And turn to Allah all, O believers, so that you may be successful.
وَ اَنۡکِحُوا الۡاَیَامٰی مِنۡکُمۡ وَ الصّٰلِحِیۡنَ مِنۡ عِبَادِکُمۡ وَ اِمَآئِکُمۡ ؕ اِنۡ یَّکُوۡنُوۡا فُقَرَآءَ یُغۡنِہِمُ اللّٰہُ مِنۡ فَضۡلِہٖ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۲﴾
24:32 And marry off those among you who are single (to spouses), and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves. If they are needy, Allah will make them free from want out of His grace. And Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.6
وَ لۡیَسۡتَعۡفِفِ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَجِدُوۡنَ نِکَاحًا حَتّٰی یُغۡنِیَہُمُ اللّٰہُ مِنۡ فَضۡلِہٖ ؕ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَبۡتَغُوۡنَ الۡکِتٰبَ مِمَّا مَلَکَتۡ اَیۡمَانُکُمۡ فَکَاتِبُوۡہُمۡ اِنۡ عَلِمۡتُمۡ فِیۡہِمۡ خَیۡرًا ٭ۖ وَّ اٰتُوۡہُمۡ مِّنۡ مَّالِ اللّٰہِ الَّذِیۡۤ اٰتٰىکُمۡ ؕ وَ لَا تُکۡرِہُوۡا فَتَیٰتِکُمۡ عَلَی الۡبِغَآءِ اِنۡ اَرَدۡنَ تَحَصُّنًا لِّتَبۡتَغُوۡا عَرَضَ الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا ؕ وَ مَنۡ یُّکۡرِہۡہُّنَّ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ اِکۡرَاہِہِنَّ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۳﴾
24:33 And those who cannot find a match must keep chaste, until Allah makes them free from want out of His grace.7 And those of your slaves who ask for a contract (to buy their freedom), give them the contract, if you know any good in them, and give them something out of the wealth of Allah which He has given you.8 And do not compel your slave-girls to prostitution when they desire to keep chaste, in order to seek the frail goods of this world’s life. And whoever compels them, then surely after their compulsion Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
وَ لَقَدۡ اَنۡزَلۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡکُمۡ اٰیٰتٍ مُّبَیِّنٰتٍ وَّ مَثَلًا مِّنَ الَّذِیۡنَ خَلَوۡا مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ وَ مَوۡعِظَۃً لِّلۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿٪۳۴﴾
24:34 And certainly We have sent to you clear messages and a description of those who passed away before you, and advice for those who guard against evil.
- The law revealed in this verse lays down the basis of domestic peace and security needed for an advanced society. It is also a preventive measure against slander. (Editor’s Note: This verse also supports the principle of having laws to safeguard the privacy of the individual within the home vis-à-vis the powers of the state authorities.) ↩
- Men are told to lower their gaze, just as women are enjoined to do in the next verse. This injunction is given as a preventive against the evil of illicit sexual relations. The Quran does not only forbid an evil, but also points out the way, by walking in which a person may be able to avoid it. Both men and women are required to keep their eyes cast down, so that when they meet each other, neither should men stare at women nor women at men. In a society in which women never appeared in public, the injunction to men to lower their gaze would be meaningless; and the similar injunction to women given in the next verse, if they never left the compounds of their houses, would be absurd. ↩
- To guard the relations between males and females and to check a too free intermingling of men and women, the Quran requires women in particular not to display their adornment. But there is a clear exception here — except what appears of it or except that which it is customary and natural to uncover. What is prohibited is really the display of beauty, as elsewhere expressly indicated: “And do not display (your beauty) like the displaying of the earlier (days of) ignorance” (33:33). According to Ibn Jarir, the exception mentioned relates to the face and hands. As an argument corroborating this opinion he says that, when praying, the woman is not required to keep her face and hands covered — hands up to the elbow — while she is required to cover the rest of the body. According to Hadith, the Holy Prophet himself is reported to have told Asma, his wife Aishah’s sister, when she appeared before him in thin clothes, through which parts of her body could be seen: “Asma, when a woman attains her puberty it is not proper that any part of her body should be seen except this, and he pointed to his face and hands” (Abu Dawud, 31:30). This settles conclusively that Islam never enjoined the veil or covering of the face. ↩
- Before Islam women used to appear in public with their breasts partly uncovered. The khimār (pl. khumr) means a head-covering, and women were thus required to cover their breasts with a part of their head-covering. ↩
- By their women are indicated all women who come in contact with them, or women who are on the same social level with them. Those whom their right hands possess include male and female slaves. Next to them are mentioned servants (called here as tābi‘īn or ‘followers’ because they follow the master), to which is added a qualifying phrase meaning, literally, not having need (of women) or lacking in cunning. These words mean male servants who take up service only as a means of living and not with the mischievous intention of getting intimacy in the house. It should be noted that women are nowhere forbidden to employ male servants or to appear before them. What this verse prevents is only display of female beauty except to those most nearly related to women, and this is a preventive measure against the spread of loose ideas of morality, and a step to help restraint of sexual passions, which is all that the Quran aims at. ↩
- The Quran looks upon the married state as the normal state, and hence it enjoins that, so far as is possible, those who are single should be married. It also requires both male and female slaves to be kept in a state of marriage. The keeping of concubines is clearly inconsistent with this. Islam is against celibacy, and considers parenthood to be the duty of every human being. The Holy Prophet, too, laid stress on Muslim men and women living in a married state. Thus he said: “He who is able to marry should marry. For it keeps the gaze low and guards chastity; and he who cannot should take to fasting (occasionally), for it will have a castrating effect on him” (Bukhari, 30:10). On another occasion he said, addressing some young men who talked of fasting in the day-time and keeping awake for prayer during the night, and keeping away from marriage: “I keep fast and I break it, and I pray and I sleep, and I am married, so whoever inclines to any other way than my sunnah, he is not of me” (Bukhari, 67:1). ↩
- The words translated as those who cannot find a match may also mean those who cannot find the means to marry. Marriage thus becomes an obligatory institution in Islam, only those being excused who cannot find a match or who lack the means to marry. Marriage, in fact, affords the surest guarantee for the betterment of the moral tone of society. ↩
- The word kitāb, or writing, as used here, stands for a contract between a slave and his master for the former to purchase his freedom. Though the practice of the master making such a contract with the slave prevailed before the advent of Islam, the important reform introduced by Islam was that, when a slave desired such a contract to be made, the master could not refuse it. Twelve centuries before any attempt was made by any individual or community to legislate for the liberty of slaves, a dweller in the Arabian desert had laid down this noble institution, that, if a slave asked for a writing of freedom, he was not only to be given that writing by the master, but he was also to be provided with money to purchase his freedom, the only condition being if you know any good in them, i.e., if he is fit for work and able to earn his livelihood. And, in addition, the duty was imposed upon the State of spending a part of the collection of the obligatory charity (zakāt) for this object, as stated in 9:60. ↩