Marriage in the Qur’an pt.4 – The Husband’s Roles and Responsibilities: 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 fourth section, click the links the visit the other sections: 12345678 – 9 – 10

وقوله: {الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا} [النساء: 34] .ـ

Allah’s statement:

الرِّ‌جَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّـهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّـهُ ۚ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُ‌وهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِ‌بُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرً‌ا

Men are the leaders and maintainers of women due to what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence, by the grace of Allah’s protection. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. [4:34]

هذا خبر وأمر، أي: الرجال قوامون على النساء في أمور الدين والدنيا، يلزمونهن بحقوق الله، والمحافظة على فرائضه، ويكفونهن عن جميع المعاصي والمفاسد، وبتقويمهن بالأخلاق الجميلة والآداب الطيبة، وقوامون أيضا عليهن بواجباتهن من النفقة والكسوة والمسكن وتوابع ذلك . ـ

This is both informational and a command – meaning: men are the leaders and maintainers of women in the matters of the deen and the dunya, enjoining rights of Allah upon them as well as safeguarding His obligations, and averting them from all forms of disobedience and corruption, and caring for them while having beautiful character and good manners. And they are also the leaders and maintainers of them by virtue of the obligation of spending on them and providing clothing, lodging and so on.

  ـ {بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ} [النساء: 34] أي: ذلك بسبب فضل الرجال عليهن وإفضالهم عليهن، فتفضيل الرجال على النساء من وجوه متعددة: من كون الولايات كلها مختصة بالرجال والنبوة والرسالة، وباختصاصهم بالجهاد البدني، ووجوب الجماعة والجمعة ونحو ذلك، وبما تميزوا به عن النساء من العقل والرزانة والحفظ والصبر والجلد والقوة التي ليست للنساء، وكذلك يده هي العليا عليها بالنفقات المتنوعة، بل وكثير من النفقات الأخر والمشاريع الخيرية، فإن الرجال يفضلون النساء بذلك كما هو مشاهد، ولهذا حذف المتعلق في قوله: {وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ} [النساء: 34] ليدل على هذا التعميم . ـ

بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّـهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ

…due to what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend from their wealth [4:34]

– meaning: this is the reason for the preference of men over them and their eminence over them. So the preferred status of men over women is due to numerous factors: such as the roles of legal guardian, prophet and messenger all being exclusive to men; men being singled out to perform certain acts of worship such as physical jihaad, the obligation of the daily communal prayers, weekly congregational prayers and other such actions specific to men; and according to how men are distinguished from women in terms of intellect, self-possession, memory, steadfast constancy, forbearance in the midst of difficulties, and strength which women do not possess. And similarly, men have the higher position over women due to the variety of (obligatory) expenditures which they make for women  – not to mention the many other optional expenditures and good efforts which they perform -, for men are preferred over women in that, as is apparent. And it was for this reason that Allah did not explicitly mention what he is spending the money on in His statement:

وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ

and due to what they spend from their wealth [4:34]

in order to demonstrate that this spending in general in nature [i.e. not restricted only to what they spend on their wives].

فعلم من ذلك أن الرجل كالوالي والسيد على امرأته، وهي عنده أسيرة عانية تحت أمره وطاعته، فليتق الله في أمرها، وليقومها تقويما ينفعه في دينه ودنياه، وفي بيته وعائلته يجد ثمرات ذلك عاجلا وآجلا، وإلا يفعل فلا يلومن إلا نفسه؛ وهن قسمان : ـ:

So all of this serves to show that the man is like a legal guardian and a master over his wife, and she is to him like a humble captive under his command and obedience. So let him have taqwa of Allah regarding her, and let him deal with her in a good way which will benefit him in his deen and his dunya. He will see the fruits of that in his household and in the family member under his responsibility, both in the short term and the long term. And if that doesn’t happen, then the has no one to blame but himself.

And there are two types of women:

القسم الأول: قسم هن أعلى طبقات النساء، وخير ما حازه الرجال، وهن المذكورات في قوله: {فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ} [النساء: 34] أي: مطيعات لله ولأزواجهن، قد أدت الحقين، وفازت بكفلين من الثواب، حافظات أنفسهن من جميع الريب، وحافظات لأمانتهن ورعاية بيوتهن، وحافظات للعائلة بالتربية الحسنة، والأدب النافع في الدين والدنيا، وعليهن بذل الجهد والاستعانة بالله على ذلك؛ فلهذا قال: ـ

The first type: this category is the highest level of women and the best of what a man can find, and they the ones mentioned in Allah’s statement:

فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّـهُ

So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in absence what Allah would have them guard by the grace of Allah’s protection [4:34]

– meaning: they are obedient to Allah and to their husbands – they have fulfilled the rights of them both, and this have earned a double-share of rewards. They guard themselves from any suspicion [i.e. on their honor], they guard their trusts and the responsibilities of their household, and they safeguard the family members under their care with their excellent cultivation and good manners in regards to both the deen and the dunya. They must exert themselves and seek the aid of Allah in all of these things. And on that note Allah said:

 ـ {بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ} [النساء: 34] أي: إذا وفقن لهذا الأمر الجليل فليحمدن الله على ذلك، ويعلمن أن هذا من حفظه وتوفيقه وتيسيره لها، فإن من وكل إلى نفسه فالنفس أمارة بالسوء، ومن شاهد منة الله، وتوكل على الله، وبذل مقدوره في الأعمال النافعة، كفاه الله ما أهمه، وأصلح له أموره، ويسر له الخير، وأجراه على عوائده الجميلة . ـ

بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّـهُ

… by the grace of Allah’s protection [4:34]

– meaning: when they are given the accord to fulfill these important commands, then they ought to praise and thank Allah for that, and know that that was a result of His protection, His granting of accord and His facilitation of these affairs. For whoever is left to his own devices, then one’s nature entices him to evil. But whoever attests to the blessings of Allah, places his reliance upon Allah, and exerts his power towards beneficial deeds, then Allah will take care of what worries him; He will rectify his affairs for him, facilitate good for him and reward him with wonderful endowments.

والقسم الثاني: هن الطبقة النازلة من النساء، وهن بضد السابقات في كل خصلة، اللاتي من سوء أخلاقهن وقبح تربيتهن تترفع على زوجها، وتعصيه في الأمور الواجبة والمستحبة، فأمر الله بتقويمهن بالأسهل فالأسهل، فقال: {وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ} [النساء: 34] أي: بينوا لهن حكم الله ورسوله في وجوب طاعة الأزواج، ورغبوهن في ذلك بما يترتب عليه من الثواب، وخوفوهن معصية الأزواج، وذكروهن ما في ذلك من العقاب، وما يترتب عليه من قطع حقوقها، وإباحة هجرها وضربها . ـ

And the second type of women: they are a lesser level of women and they are the opposite of the previous category in terms of every characteristic. They are those that have bad natures and poor upbringings, one that looks down on her husband and disobeys him in obligatory and recommended matters. So Allah commanded dealing with this category by beginning with what is lightest and then moving to the next lightest thing, for He said:

وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ

But those from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them… [4:34]

– meaning:

  • clearly explain the ruling of Allah and His messenger regarding the obligatory nature of obedience to one’s husband to them, and
  • encourage them towards that by mentioning the rewards associated with it, and
  • instill fear of disobedience to the husband in them and remind them of the punishment (from Allah) associated with that, as well as the curtailment of her own rights (by her husband) which may result from her disobedience, as well as his being able to take leave of her or strike her.

فإن تقومن بالوعظ والتذكير فذلك المطلوب، وحصل الاتفاق الذي لا يشوبه مكدر . ـ

If she is then made straight by admonition and reminding, then that was the objective and he has achieved a harmony with no lasting ill will.

فإن لم يفد التذكير فاهجروهن في المضاجع، بأن لا ينام عندها، ولا يباشرها بجماع ولا غيره؛ لعل الهجر ينجع فيها، ذلك بمقدار ما يحصل به المقصود فقط، فإن القصد بالهجر نفع المهجور وأدبه، ليس الغرض منه شفاء النفس كما يفعله من لا رأي له إذا خالفته زوجته أو غيرها، ولم يحصل مقصوده ، هجر هجرا مستمرا، أي: بقي متأثرا بذلك، عاتبا على من لم يواته على ما يحب، ووصلت به الحال إلى الحقد الذي هو من الخصال الذميمة، فهذا ليس من الهجر الجميل النافع ، وإنما هو من الحقد الضار بصاحبه، الذي لا يحصل به تقويم ولا مصلحة . ـ

But if this reminder does not bring about benefit, them take leave of her in terms of the marriage bed – meaning that you would not sleep with her, nor have sexual relations -neither coital intercourse or anything else -, in order that this abandonment might have an effect on her. And this is done only to the extent that it achieves the desired objective, for the objective of abandonment is to benefit and chasten the one who is being abandoned. The goal of this is not self-gratifying revenge – as is the practice of some who have no sense when their wife or someone else opposes them – and that will not achieve the desired goal. Such a person abandons them with a perpetual abandonment – i.e. that he is holding a grudge and blaming those who do not deserve to be blamed according to his own caprices. This condition leads to resentment, which is one of the dispraised characteristics. So such behavior is not part of the beautiful and beneficial abandonment, such behavior only arises from harmful ill-will on the part of the one who does it, and this achieves neither uprightness nor benefit.

فإن نفع الهجر للزوجة وإلا انتقل إلى ضربها ضربا خفيفا غير مبرح، فإن حصل المقصود، ورجعت إلى الطاعة، وتركت المعصية، عاد الزوج إلى عشرتها الجميلة، ولا سبيل له إلى غير ذلك من أذيتها؛ لأنها رجعت إلى الحق . ـ

If staying away from the wife has a beneficial effect, then that is all well and good. Otherwise, proceed to striking her with a light strike which is not severe. Then if this achieves the objective and she returns to obedience and stops being disobedient, then the husband returns to interacting with her in a beautiful way, and it is not allowable for him to do anything other than that such as abusing her, because she has returned to what is right.

وهذا الدواء لكل عاص ومجرم، إن الشارع رغبه إذا ترك إجرامه عاد حقه الخاص والعام كما في حق التائب من الظلم وقطع الطريق وغيرها، فكيف الزوج مع زوجته ؟ ـ

And this is the cure for every kind of disobedient and delinquent person. The Divine Legislator has encouraged such a person that when he abandons his crimes, his due rights – both the particular and the general – will be reinstated, just as is true of the one who repents from oppression and cutting off the paths and other such sinful deeds. So if its like that for the likes of these, then what about with the husband towards his wife?

وفي هذه الآية ونحوها فائدة نافعة، وهي أنه ينبغي لمن عاد إلى الحق أن لا يذكر الأمور السالفة، فإن ذلك أحرى للثبات على المطلوب، فإن تذكير الأمور الماضية ربما أثار الشر، فانتكس المرض، وعادت الحال إلى أشد من الأولى. ـ

And this ayah and other similar ayaat hold a point of great benefit, which is that the one who returns to what is right ought not to be reminded of his previous affairs; this course of action is better suited to shore up such people upon a good path. For reminders of past events could very well have a negative effect and thus bring about a relapse of that illness, and thus that person’s state might fall back to any even worse condition.

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Manaan pg. 208-211]

Translator’s Note: In the process of translating this excerpt, we also referenced imam al-Sa’di’s explanation of these ayaat in his complete tafsir, Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman, where he had often mentioned the same points but with slightly different wordings which helped to clarify what he intended. In some places in this translation, we have incorporated or added the wordings mentioned in Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman in order to ensure that we are accurately conveying the meanings intended by sheikh al-Sa’di, and success is from Allah.

Continue reading: Marriage in the Qur’an pt.5 – Marital Discord: Imam al-Sa’di

This article is the fourth 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.

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10 thoughts on “Marriage in the Qur’an pt.4 – The Husband’s Roles and Responsibilities: Imam al-Sa’di

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  3. Pingback: Marriage in the Qur’an pt.3 – Prohibited Relationships: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: Marriage in the Qur’an pt.5 – Marital Discord: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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

  6. Pingback: Marriage in the Qur’an pt.7 – Justice Between Wives: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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

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

  10. Pingback: Special Circumstances of Marriage and Divorce: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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