English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)
by Maulana Muhammad Ali
Chapter 4: Al-Nisa — Women (Revealed at Madinah: 24 sections, 176 verses)
Section 1 (Verses 4:1–4:10): Duties of Guardians to Orphans
بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوۡا رَبَّکُمُ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَکُمۡ مِّنۡ نَّفۡسٍ وَّاحِدَۃٍ وَّ خَلَقَ مِنۡہَا زَوۡجَہَا وَ بَثَّ مِنۡہُمَا رِجَالًا کَثِیۡرًا وَّ نِسَآءً ۚ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ الَّذِیۡ تَسَآءَلُوۡنَ بِہٖ وَ الۡاَرۡحَامَ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ کَانَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ رَقِیۡبًا ﴿۱﴾
4:1 O people, keep your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind),1 and spread from these two many men and women.2 And keep your duty to Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship. Surely Allah is ever a Watcher over you.
وَ اٰتُوا الۡیَتٰمٰۤی اَمۡوَالَہُمۡ وَ لَا تَتَبَدَّلُوا الۡخَبِیۡثَ بِالطَّیِّبِ ۪ وَ لَا تَاۡکُلُوۡۤا اَمۡوَالَہُمۡ اِلٰۤی اَمۡوَالِکُمۡ ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ حُوۡبًا کَبِیۡرًا ﴿۲﴾
4:2 And give to orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones), nor devour their property (adding) to your own property. This is surely a great sin.3
وَ اِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ اَلَّا تُقۡسِطُوۡا فِی الۡیَتٰمٰی فَانۡکِحُوۡا مَا طَابَ لَکُمۡ مِّنَ النِّسَآءِ مَثۡنٰی وَ ثُلٰثَ وَ رُبٰعَ ۚ فَاِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ اَلَّا تَعۡدِلُوۡا فَوَاحِدَۃً اَوۡ مَا مَلَکَتۡ اَیۡمَانُکُمۡ ؕ ذٰلِکَ اَدۡنٰۤی اَلَّا تَعُوۡلُوۡا ؕ﴿۳﴾
4:3 And if you fear that you cannot do justice to orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, or three, or four;4 but if you fear that you will not do justice, then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess.5 This is more proper that you may not do injustice.
وَ اٰتُوا النِّسَآءَ صَدُقٰتِہِنَّ نِحۡلَۃً ؕ فَاِنۡ طِبۡنَ لَکُمۡ عَنۡ شَیۡءٍ مِّنۡہُ نَفۡسًا فَکُلُوۡہُ ہَنِیۡٓــًٔا مَّرِیۡٓــًٔا ﴿۴﴾
4:4 And give women their dowries as a free gift. But if they of themselves are pleased to give you a portion from it, consume it with enjoyment and pleasure.6
وَ لَا تُؤۡتُوا السُّفَہَآءَ اَمۡوَالَکُمُ الَّتِیۡ جَعَلَ اللّٰہُ لَکُمۡ قِیٰمًا وَّ ارۡزُقُوۡہُمۡ فِیۡہَا وَ اکۡسُوۡہُمۡ وَ قُوۡلُوۡا لَہُمۡ قَوۡلًا مَّعۡرُوۡفًا ﴿۵﴾
وَ ابۡتَلُوا الۡیَتٰمٰی حَتّٰۤی اِذَا بَلَغُوا النِّکَاحَ ۚ فَاِنۡ اٰنَسۡتُمۡ مِّنۡہُمۡ رُشۡدًا فَادۡفَعُوۡۤا اِلَیۡہِمۡ اَمۡوَالَہُمۡ ۚ وَ لَا تَاۡکُلُوۡہَاۤ اِسۡرَافًا وَّ بِدَارًا اَنۡ یَّکۡبَرُوۡا ؕ وَ مَنۡ کَانَ غَنِیًّا فَلۡیَسۡتَعۡفِفۡ ۚ وَ مَنۡ کَانَ فَقِیۡرًا فَلۡیَاۡکُلۡ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ ؕ فَاِذَا دَفَعۡتُمۡ اِلَیۡہِمۡ اَمۡوَالَہُمۡ فَاَشۡہِدُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ ؕ وَ کَفٰی بِاللّٰہِ حَسِیۡبًا ﴿۶﴾
4:6 And test the orphans until they reach the age of marriage.9 Then if you find in them maturity of intellect, make over to them their property, and do not consume it extravagantly and hastily against their growing up. And whoever is rich, let him abstain, and whoever is poor let him consume reasonably.10 And when you make over to them their property, call witnesses in their presence. And Allah is enough as a Reckoner.
لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِیۡبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَکَ الۡوَالِدٰنِ وَ الۡاَقۡرَبُوۡنَ ۪ وَ لِلنِّسَآءِ نَصِیۡبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَکَ الۡوَالِدٰنِ وَ الۡاَقۡرَبُوۡنَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنۡہُ اَوۡ کَثُرَ ؕ نَصِیۡبًا مَّفۡرُوۡضًا ﴿۷﴾
4:7 For men is a share of what the parents and the near relatives leave, and for women a share of what the parents and the near relatives leave, whether it is little or much — an appointed share.11
وَ اِذَا حَضَرَ الۡقِسۡمَۃَ اُولُوا الۡقُرۡبٰی وَ الۡیَتٰمٰی وَ الۡمَسٰکِیۡنُ فَارۡزُقُوۡہُمۡ مِّنۡہُ وَ قُوۡلُوۡا لَہُمۡ قَوۡلًا مَّعۡرُوۡفًا ﴿۸﴾
4:8 And when relatives12 and the orphans and the needy are present at the division, give them out of it and speak to them kind words.
وَ لۡیَخۡشَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَوۡ تَرَکُوۡا مِنۡ خَلۡفِہِمۡ ذُرِّیَّۃً ضِعٰفًا خَافُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ ۪ فَلۡیَتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ لۡیَقُوۡلُوۡا قَوۡلًا سَدِیۡدًا ﴿۹﴾
4:9 And let those fear who, if they should leave behind them weakly offspring, would fear on their account; so let them observe their duty to Allah and let them speak right words.
اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ یَاۡکُلُوۡنَ اَمۡوَالَ الۡیَتٰمٰی ظُلۡمًا اِنَّمَا یَاۡکُلُوۡنَ فِیۡ بُطُوۡنِہِمۡ نَارًا ؕ وَ سَیَصۡلَوۡنَ سَعِیۡرًا ﴿٪۱۰﴾
4:10 Those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, they swallow only fire into their bellies. And they will burn in blazing fire.
- How the first man was created is not stated either in the Quran or in the Hadith, nor is the Bible statement accepted that Eve was created from a rib of Adam. Muslims do not accept that man was created six thousand years ago. There are traditions stating that there were many Adams, even hundreds of thousands of Adams, before our Adam. Nor do Muslims accept that our world is the only world in this universe; one Imam is reported as saying that in God’s universe there are twelve thousand systems each bigger than our solar system. The words “Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same” only declare the unity of the human race and the equality of the male and the female. Elsewhere we are told that for all of you wives are created from yourselves: “And Allah has made wives for you from among yourselves” (16:72). ↩
- “Many men and women” spring from married pairs. The verse does not necessarily refer to any parent pair of the whole of mankind. It reminds people of the strength of the ties of relationship, an idea mentioned in what follows. ↩
- The care of the orphan was one of the earliest injunctions that Islam gave, and the Prophet had always shown a deep anxiety for the welfare of the poor and the orphans; see 2:220 and 90:15–16. The subject is here introduced in detail because of the number of orphans having been greatly increased by the war. ↩
- This passage permits polygamy under certain circumstances; it does not prescribe it, nor even permit it unconditionally. This chapter was revealed to guide the Muslims under the conditions which followed the battle of Uhud, and the last chapter deals with that battle. Now in that battle 70 men out of 700 Muslims had been killed, and this had greatly decreased the number of males. The number was likely to diminish further still in the battles which had yet to be fought. Thus many orphans would be left in the charge of widows, who would find it difficult to procure the necessary means of support. Hence in the first verse of this chapter Muslims are enjoined to respect ties of relationship. As they all came from a single ancestor, a breadth is introduced into the idea of relationship. In the second verse the care of orphans is particularly stressed. In the third verse we are told that if they could not do justice to the orphans, they might marry the widows, whose children would thus become their own children; and as the number of women was now much greater than the number of men, they were permitted to marry even two or three or four women. The Holy Prophet’s own action in marrying widows corroborates this statement. Marriage with orphan girls is also sanctioned in this passage, for there were the same difficulties in their case as in the case of widows, and the words are general. See also 4:127. It is not only the preponderance of females over males that necessitates polygamy in certain cases, but there is a variety of other circumstances, not only for the moral but also for the physical welfare of society. ↩
- By what your right hands possess are meant the females who were taken prisoners in war. The Quran sanctions marriage with them in this verse. As for the conditions of that marriage, see 4:25. ↩
- It is obligatory in Islam that a “dowry” or nuptial gift should be given by the husband to the wife at the time of marriage, whether she is a free woman, an orphan girl, or a prisoner of war. So every woman begins her married life as the owner of some property, and thus marriage is the means of raising her status. The practice has, however, become more or less general to recognize dowry as a debt which the husband owes to the wife and which she can claim when she likes. ↩
- By your property is meant the property of the orphans which is under your control as guardians. This verse requires guardianship in the case of all who are weak of understanding, whether minors or not. While on the one hand the Quran lays stress on the transitoriness of this life, on the other it teaches that wealth is not a thing to be despised or wasted, because it is the means of support. ↩
- The words “give them a good education” are generally rendered as meaning “speak to them good words”, but the word qaul (speak) is used to express all kinds of deeds. After referring to the maintenance and clothing of the orphans in a befitting manner, the Quran now calls attention to another great need of theirs which is education. From the first revelation, Islam laid stress on knowledge, read and write (96:1–5) being its very first message, and the Prophet spoke of the acquisition of knowledge as being as great a need of humanity as the acquisition of wealth. It is the education of orphans that the Quran refers to here, and the next verse which enjoins guardians to “test” their wards makes it clear. ↩
- These words show further that the guardian is not only responsible for the education of the wards but he is also required to examine them and see what progress they have made. According to Abu Hanifah, majority is attained at eighteen years, but if maturity of intellect is not attained at eighteen, the limit may be extended. These words, moreover, show that marriage should be performed at an age after a person has attained majority, not before it, for the age of marriage is spoken of as being the age of attaining majority. ↩
- These words allow payment of reasonable wages to the manager of a ward’s estate out of the ward’s property if the manager is not a rich man. ↩
- Among the Arabs, women and children had no share in inheritance. Islam introduced a great reform. The principle laid down here is the basis of the Muslim law of inheritance. Children and near relatives, or failing these, distant relatives, whether males or females, are the lawful heirs, and the whole of the property does not go to the eldest son. This is in accordance with the broad principles of democracy and the brotherhood of man which Islam seeks to establish. ↩
- That is, distant relatives who for any reason are not entitled to inherit. ↩