Marriage in the Qur’an pt.2 – Rights of Wives: Imam al-Sa’di

In his book of thematic tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di dedicated a chapter of his book to the issues related to marriage. This series of articles will present the different sub-divisions of this chapter in order. This is the second section, click the links the visit the other sections: 12345678 – 9 – 10

ـ {  يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِ‌ثُوا النِّسَاءَ كَرْ‌هًا ۖ وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَعَاشِرُ‌وهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُ‌وفِ ۚ فَإِن كَرِ‌هْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَ‌هُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرً‌ا كَثِيرً‌ا  } إلى قوله: {  مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا }  [ النساء: 19 – 21 ].ـ

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِ‌ثُوا النِّسَاءَ كَرْ‌هًا ۖ وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَعَاشِرُ‌وهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُ‌وفِ ۚ فَإِن كَرِ‌هْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَ‌هُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرً‌ا كَثِيرً‌ا * وَإِنْ أَرَ‌دتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَّكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارً‌ا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا * وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَىٰ بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا 

O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good. * But if you intend to replace a wife by another and you have given one of them a a great amount of gold as a dowry, take not the least bit of it back; would you take it wrongfully without a right and (with) a manifest sin? * And how could you take it (back) while you have gone in unto each other, and they have taken from you a firm and strong covenant? [4:19-21]

كان أهل الجاهلية إذا مات أحدهم ورثت زوجته عنه كما يورث ماله، فرأى قريبه كأخيه وابن عمه أنه أحق بها من نفسها، ويحجرها عن غيره، فإن رضي بها تزوجها على غير صداق، أو على صداق يحبه هو دونها، وإن لم يرض بزواجها عضلها ومنعها من الأزواج إلا بعوض من الزوج أو منها . ـ

It used to be the case for the people of pre-Islamic ignorance that when one of them would die his wife would be inherited just as his wealth would be inherited, so one of his close relatives – for instance his brother or paternal cousin – would consider himself to have more of a right to her than even she had of herself and so he would prevent her from going to anyone else. So if he was pleased with her, then he would wed her without giving her any dowry or with a dowry which pleased him but not her. However if he didn’t wish to marry her then he would make things difficult for her and prevent her from marriage unless he was provided with some compensation from the suitor or from her herself.

وكان منهم أيضا من يعضل زوجته التي هي في حباله، فيمنعها من حقوقها، ومن التوسعة لها لتفتدي منه، فنهى الله المؤمنين عن هذه الأحوال القبيحة الجائرة . ـ

And also among the people of pre-Islamic ignorance there were those who would be difficult on the wives under their care, for they would withhold their due rights from them. But part of Allah’s gracious bounty towards women is that He saved them from this, for He prohibited the believers from these sorts of despicable behaviors and crimes.

ـ { إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ } كالزنا والكلام الفاحش وأذيتها لزوجها ومن يتصل به، فيجوز في هذه الحال أن يعضلها مقابلة لها على فعلها لتفتدي منه؛ فإن هذا الافتداء بحق لا بظلم . ـ

إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ

unless they commit open faahishah [4:19]

such as illicit sexual intercourse, foul speech, verbally abusing her husband and the things which lead to that. So in this circumstance it is permissible for him to be hard on her as a response to her actions in order to save her from this. But this saving is to be done through what is right, not by means of injustice.

ثم قال: { وَعَاشِرُ‌وهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُ‌وفِ } ، وهذا يشمل المعاشرة القولية والفعلية، فعلى الزوج أن يعاشر زوجته ببذل النفقة والكسوة والمسكن اللائق بحاله، ويصاحبها صحبة جميلة بكف الأذى، وبذل الإحسان، وحسن المعاملة والخلق، وأن لا يمطلها بحقها . ـ

Then Allah said:

وَعَاشِرُ‌وهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُ‌وفِ

And live with them honorably [4:19]

and this includes loyal companionship in both word and deed. So it is incumbent upon the husband to live together with his wife honorably by spending on her financially and in terms of clothing and lodging, all of which being commensurate with his status. And He should also have beautiful companionship with her by abstaining from any abuse and by being liberal in ihsaan, good interactions and good manners, and that he doesn’t delay giving her her due rights.

وهي كذلك عليها ما عليه من العشرة، وكل ذلك يتبع العرف في كل زمان ومكان وحال ما يليق به . ـ

And just as good and loyal companionship is due from him to her, likewise it is also due from her to him. And all of that is according to the norms of each time and place and according to what is befitting of one’s status.

قال تعالى: { لِيُنفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِّن سَعَتِهِ ۖ وَمَن قُدِرَ‌ عَلَيْهِ رِ‌زْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّا آتَاهُ اللَّـهُ ۚ لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّـهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا مَا آتَاهَا }  [ الطلاق: 7 ]. وقوله: { فَإِن كَرِ‌هْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَ‌هُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرً‌ا كَثِيرً‌ا }  أي: ينبغي لكم يا معشر الأزواج أن تمسكوا زوجاتكم ولو كرهتموهن، فإن في ذلك خيرا كثيرا: ـ

Allah said:

لِيُنفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِّن سَعَتِهِ ۖ وَمَن قُدِرَ‌ عَلَيْهِ رِ‌زْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّا آتَاهُ اللَّـهُ ۚ لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّـهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا مَا آتَاهَا

Let the rich man spend according to his means, and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. [65:7]

And His statement:

فَإِن كَرِ‌هْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَ‌هُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرً‌ا كَثِيرً‌ا

If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good. [4:19]

– meaning: it is appropriate – O you husbands – that you remain true to your wives even if you dislike them, for indeed there is a great deal of good in that.

منها: امتثال أمر الله ورسوله الذي فيه سعادة الدنيا والآخرة. ـ

One part of that good is: complying with the command of Allah and His messenger, something which  holds joy for the life of this world and the hereafter.

ومنها: أن إجباره نفسه، ومجاهدته إياها مع عدم محبة زوجته تمرين على التخلق بالأخلاق الجميلة، وربما زالت الكراهة وخلفتها المحبة، وربما زالت الأسباب التي كرهها لأجلها، وربما رزق منها ولدا صالحا نفع الله به والديه في الدنيا والآخرة، ولا بد لهذه الكراهة من أسباب من الزوجة، فينبغي إذا كره منها خلقا لحظ بقية أخلاقها، وما فيها من المقاصد الأخر، ويجعل هذا في مقابلة هذا، وهذا عنوان الإنصاف والرأي الأصيل، فإن النزق الطائش الذي ليس عنده إنصاف يلاحظ بعض أغراضه النفسية، فإذا لم يأت على ما يريد أهدر المحاسن والمناقب الأخر، وهذا لا يكاد يصفو له خل في حياته، لا زوجة ولا صاحب ولا حبيب، بل هو سريع التقلب. ـ

Another aspect of that good is: that forcing oneself to struggling against oneself while having a lack of love for one’s wife is an exercise in developing beautiful character. And perhaps that dislike will disappear and be replaced with love, or perhaps the reason behind your disliking her will disappear, or perhaps you will be provided with a righteous child through her which Allah will make a source of benefit to his or her parents in this life and and in the hereafter.

And if it should be the case that this dislike has its sources in the wife, then if he dislikes one quality from her then he should consider the rest of her qualities and the other things about her, and treat this as a counterweight to that, as that is the essence of fairness and an objective perspective. For the foolhardiness of the impetuous person who does not have any fairness in him is that he gives priority to some of his own personal needs; and then if he does not get what he wants he disregards any good treatment and other good traits. This type of behavior is hardly befitting for the closest one in one’s life – not for one’s wife or companion or dear one – rather it is impulsive fickleness.

أما الرجل الحازم الوفي الذكي فإنه يوازن بين الأمور، ويقدم الحق السابق، ويفي بالسوابق، ويكون نظره للمحاسن أرجح من نظره للمساوئ. ـ

But as for the reasonable, faithful, intelligent man, then he weighs and balances the various issues against one another. He weighs them truthfully and acts accordingly, and his consideration of the good qualities outweighs his estimation of the bad qualities.

فإن وصل إلى الدرجة العالية التي لا يصل إليها إلا أفراد من كمل الرجال جعل المحاسن نصب عينيه، وأغضى عن المساوئ بالكلية، وعفا عنها لله ولحق صاحب الحق، فهذا قد كسب الأجر والراحة والخلق الذي لا يلحق، وذلك فضل الله يؤتيه من يشاء . ـ

But if he manages to attain the highest level of goodness – which is only reached by singular examples of complete men – , then that level is that he always bears his wife’s good qualities in mind and overlooks her bad qualities entirely, and he pardons her for the sake of Allah and for her sake, as she has due rights to be upheld. So this type of person has earned a great reward and achieved a standard of character which cannot be matched – and that is a bounty from Allah which He gives to whomever He wills.

وهذا الصبر المأمور به إنما هو مع الإمكان، فإن كان لا بد من الفراق، ولم يبق للصبر والإمساك موضع، فالله قد أباح الفراق، فلهذا قال: { وَإِنْ أَرَ‌دتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ }  أي: فلا حرج عليكم، ولكن إذا آتيتم إحداهن أي: الزوجة السابقة أو اللاحقة ( قِنْطَارًا ) وهو المال الكثير، { فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا } ، بل وفروه لهن ولا تمطلوهن . ـ

And this sabr [steadfast patience] with which we have been commanded is only according to one’s ability. So if there must be a separation and one cannot maintain patience or refrain from this situation, then Allah had allowed separation. So regarding this He said:

وَإِنْ أَرَ‌دتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ

But if you intend to replace a wife [4:20]

– meaning: there is no fault on you. However if you gave either one of them – i.e. your previous wife or next wife – a qintaar – which is a large amount of wealth – :

فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا

take not the least bit of it back [4:20]

– rather, give it to them completely and do not delay in doing so.

وهذا يدل على جواز إعطاء النساء من المهور وغيرها المال الكثير، وأنها بذلك تملكه، ولكن الأكمل والأفضل التساهل في المهور اقتداء بالنبي  وتسهيلا للنكاح ولطرقه وبراءة للذمم. ـ

And this demonstrates the permissibility of giving a large amount of wealth – whether as a dowry or otherwise – to women, and that by doing so it becomes their possession. However what is better and more perfect is to be easy-going in the dowries, thereby acting in obedience to the Prophet, and to facilitate marriage and the means leading up to it, and to leave off excessive payments.

ثم ذكر الحكمة في تحريم أخذ الزوج ما أعطاه لزوجته، فقال: { أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا * وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَىٰ بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا } ، وبيان ذلك أن الأنثى قبل عقد النكاح محرمة على الزوج، وهي لم ترض بهذا الحل إلا بالعقد والميثاق الغليظ الذي عقد على ذلك العوض المشروط، فإذا دخل عليها وباشرها، وأفضى إليها وأفضت إليه، وباشرها المباشرة التي كانت قبل هذه الأمور حراما فقد استوفى المعوض، فثبت عليه العوض تاما، فكيف يستوفي المعوض ثم يرجع على العوض ؟ لا ريب أن هذا من المنكرات القبيحة شرعا وعقلا وفطرة. ـ

Then next Allah mentioned the wisdom in forbidding the husband from taking what he had given his wife, for He said:

أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا * وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَىٰ بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا

would you take it wrongfully without a right and (with) a manifest sin? * And how could you take it (back) while you have gone in unto each other, and they have taken from you a firm and strong covenant? [4:20-21]

And this makes it clear that relationships between a man and a member of the female gender prior to a marriage contract are forbidden, and that a woman is only removed from that state of being forbidden for him by means of a contract and strong covenant through which they have undertaken those reciprocal conditions. So then if he enters unto her and has sexual intercourse with her, and he is intimate with her and she is intimate with him, and he engages in sexual intercourse with her while previously these acts where forbidden for them, then he has undertaken the responsibility of compensation, and a complete compensation is absolutely incumbent upon him. So how could he undertake the responsibility of compensation and then renege on his due compensation? There is no doubt that that is a despicable and evil act regardless of whether it is viewed from the perspective of the divine legislation, the intellect, or one’s in-born nature.

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Manaan pg. 202-205]

This article is the second in a ten-part series on Marriage and Divorce in the Qur’an. See our Series Guide to see the other sections and for more details.

Read the previous article here: Marriage in the Qur’an pt.1 – Conditions for Marriage: Imam al-Sa’di

Continue reading the next section here: Marriage in the Qur’an pt.3 – Prohibited Relationships: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “The jealous woman is not to be taken to task for what she does”: Ibn Hajar

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10 thoughts on “Marriage in the Qur’an pt.2 – Rights of Wives: Imam al-Sa’di

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  9. Pingback: Divorce in the Qur’an – Part 2: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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