“Reconciliation is better”: Imam al-Qurtubi’s tafsir of 4:128

Allah, سبحانه وتعالى , says in His Book

وَإِنِ امْرَ‌أَةٌ خَافَتْ مِن بَعْلِهَا نُشُوزًا أَوْ إِعْرَ‌اضًا فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا أَن يُصْلِحَا بَيْنَهُمَا صُلْحًا ۚ وَالصُّلْحُ خَيْرٌ‌ ۗ وَأُحْضِرَ‌تِ الْأَنفُسُ الشُّحَّ ۚ وَإِن تُحْسِنُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرً‌ا

“And if a woman fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no sin on them both if they make make terms of settlement between them; and reconciliation is better. And human inner-selves are swayed by shuhh (miserliness, covetousness, greediness). But if you do good and have taqwa, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.” [4:128]

Imam al-Qurtubi in his tafsir writes:

    قوله تعالى‏{‏والصلح خير‏}‏ لفظ عام مطلق يقتضي أن الصلح الحقيقي الذي تسكن إليه النفوس ويزول به الخلاف خير على الإطلاق‏.‏ ويدخل في هذا المعنى جميع ما يقع عليه الصلح بين الرجل وامرأته في مال أو وطء أو غير ذلك‏.‏ ‏}‏خير ‏}‏أي خير من الفرقة؛ فإن التمادي على الخلاف والشحناء والمباغضة هي قواعد الشر، وقال عليه السلام في البغضة‏:‏ ‏(‏إنها الحالقة ‏)‏ يعني حالقة الدين لا حالقة الشعر‏.‏

Allah’s statement, “and reconciliation is better” is a general statement which instructs towards real reconciliation – which is that you are at peace with it in your souls and removing the dispute – this is better than divorce. And included in this meaning is a gathering of all that comes with the reconciliation between man and wife, such as finances, sexual relations and other than that. “Better” means better than separation; for certainly persistence upon disputing, enmity and hatred is a basis of evil. And the Messenger said about hatred, “verily, it is haaliqah” – meaning it cuts the deen, (not hair, as the word is more commonly used to signify).

Imam al-Qurtubi went on to write in his tafsir:

‏قوله تعالى‏{‏وأحضرت الأنفس الشح ‏}‏إخبار بأن الشح في كل أحد‏.‏ وأن الإنسان لا بد أن يشح بحكم خلقته وجبلته حتى يحمل صاحبه على بعض ما يكره؛ يقال‏:‏ شح يشح ‏(‏بكسر الشين ‏)‏

Allah’s statement, “And human inner-selves are swayed by shuhh (miserliness)” there is in information that shuh is found in everyone. And that mankind in necessarily miserly by virtue of of nature and disposition, to the extent that it causes him to do some of what he hates.

قال ابن جبير‏:‏ هو شح المرأة بالنفقة من زوجها وبقسمه لها أيامها‏.‏ وقال ابن زيد‏:‏ الشح هنا منه ومنها‏.‏ وقال ابن عطية‏:‏ وهذا أحسن؛ فإن الغالب على المرأة الشح بنصيبها من زوجها، والغالب على الزوج الشح بنصيبه من الشابة‏.‏ والشح الضبط على المعتقدات والإرادة وفي الهمم والأموال ونحو ذلك، فما أفرط منه على الدين فهو محمود، وما أفرط منه في غيره ففيه بعض المذمة، وهو الذي قال الله فيه‏{‏ومن يوق شح نفسه فأولئك هم المفلحون‏}‏التغابن‏:‏16‏]‏‏.

And Ibn Jareer [at-Tabari] said, “this is miserliness of the woman for the maintenance from her husband and for the division of his days [i.e. between his different wives].” And Ibn Zaid said, “miserliness here is applies to both the husband and the wife.” And Ibn ‘Atiyyah said – and this is the best of what has been said – “Certainly the majority of women are covetous/miserly over their share from their husband, and the majority of husbands are covetous/miserly of their share from their young wives. And miserliness exerts a certain hold over one’s convictions and will, as well as in motivations, and in financial matters and so on. And whatever is spent excessively on the deen, then that is praiseworthy, and whatever is spent lavishly of other than that, then there is some blameworthiness in that, and that is what Allah said, “And whoever is protected from the covetousness of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.” [64:16].

وما صار إلى حيز منع الحقوق الشرعية أو التي تقتضيها المروءة فهو البخل وهي رذيلة‏.‏ وإذا آل البخل إلى هذه الأخلاق المذمومة والشيم اللئيمة لم يبق معه خير مرجو ولا صلاح مأمول‏.‏

And from the things which have devolved into preventing the attainment of rights guaranteed in the sharee’a and or what is obligated by chivalry, then that is stinginess and that is contemptible. And if the stingy people reach this level of blameworthy manners and ignoble characteristics, then a good return is no longer an option, nor is reconciliation hoped for.

قوله تعالى‏ (‏وإن تحسنوا وتتقوا ‏) ‏شرط ‏(‏فإن الله كان بما تعملون خبيرا ‏) ‏جوابه‏.‏ وهذا خطاب للأزواج من حيث إن للزوج أن يشح ولا يحسن؛ أي إن تحسنوا وتتقوا في عشرة النساء بإقامتكم عليهن مع كراهيتكم لصحبتهن واتقاء ظلمهن فهو أفضل لكم‏.‏

The statement of Allah, “But if you do good and have taqwa”, – the condition – “then verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do” – its outcome. And this speech is directed towards the husbands regarding if they are miserly to their wives and do not treat them well. The meaning is, ‘if you do good and have taqwa in your companionship with your women, in your responsibilities and authority over them, while bearing with their disliked qualities, and exercising taqwa which prevents you from being unjust to them, then that is the most virtuous and best thing for you.”

[Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an]

Please see Reconciliation is Better”: Imam al-Sa’di’s tafsir of 4:128 for more beneficial points to be drawn from this important ayah, baarak Allaahu feekum

See also: Marriage in the Qur’an pt.6 – Settlement: Imam al-Sa’di

2 thoughts on ““Reconciliation is better”: Imam al-Qurtubi’s tafsir of 4:128

  1. Pingback: “Reconciliation is better”: Imam al-Sa’di’s tafsir of 4:128 | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Marriage in the Qur’an pt.6 – Settlement: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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