4 - An Nisa (The women)

6 Tafsir(s) related to verse 4.34

Al-Jalalayn

Men are in charge of, they have authority over, women, disciplining them and keeping them in check, because of that with which God has preferred the one over the other, that is, because God has given them the advantage over women, in knowledge, reason, authority and otherwise, and because of what they expend, on them [the women], of their property. Therefore righteous women, among them, are obedient, to their husbands, guarding in the unseen, that is, [guarding] their private parts and otherwise during their spouses’ absence, because of what God has guarded, for them, when He enjoined their male spouses to look after them well. And those you fear may be rebellious, disobedient to you, when such signs appear, admonish them, make them fear God, and share not beds with them, retire to other beds if they manifest such disobedience, and strike them, but not violently, if they refuse to desist [from their rebellion] after leaving them [in separate beds]. If they then obey you, in what is desired from them, do not seek a way against them, a reason to strike them unjustly. God is ever High, Great, so beware of Him, lest He punish you for treating them unjustly.

Al-Qushairi

Men are in charge of women because of that with which God has preferred the one over the other, and because of what they expend of their property. Therefore righteous women are obedient, guarding in the unseen because of what God has guarded. And those you fear may be rebellious, admonish them, and share not beds with them, and strike them. If they then obey you, do not seek a way against them. God is ever High, Great.

He singled out men for strength and then increased their burden, for the burden is in accordance with the strength. The admonition is for hearts and aspirations, not for the lower selves and bodies.

And those you fear may be rebellious, admonish them, and share not beds with them, and strike them: i.e. increase your correction of them gradually and with kindness, for if the matter can be reconciled with admonition there is no need to use the rod to strike. The verse contains the good manners of spousal companionship.

Then He said: If they then obey you, do not seek a way against them. It means if she stops acting in a way that is injurious to the relationship and returns to obedience, do not seek revenge on her for what has happened in the past and do not hold back from accepting her excuse or be unyielding towards her.

It is said do not seek a way against them in going beyond the measure of what you deem necessary in your punishment.

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

(Men are in charge of women") [4:34]. Said Muqatil: "This verse (Men are in charge of women") was revealed about Sa"d ibn al-Rabi", who was one of the leaders of the Helpers (nuqaba"), and his wife Habibah bint Zayd ibn Abi Zuhayr, both of whom from the Helpers. It happened Sa"d hit his wife on the face because she rebelled against him. Then her father went with her to see the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. He said to him: "I gave him my daughter in marriage and he slapped her". The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: "Let her have retaliation against her husband". As she was leaving with her father to execute retaliation, the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, called them and said: "Come back; Gabriel has come to me", and Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: "We wanted something while Allah wanted something else, and that which Allah wants is good". Retaliation was then suspended". Sa"id ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Zahid informed us> Zahir ibn Ahmad> Ahmad ibn al-Husayn ibn Junayd> Ziyad ibn Ayyub> Hushaym> Yunus ibn al-Hasan who reported that a man slapped his wife and she complained about him to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. Her family who went with her said: "O Messenger of Allah! So-and-so has slapped our girl". The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, kept saying: "Retaliation! Retaliation! And there is no other judgement to be held". But then this verse (Men are in charge of women") was revealed and the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: "We wanted something and Allah wanted something else". Abu Bakr al-Harithi informed us> Abu"l-Shaykh al-Hafiz> Abu Yahya al-Razi> Sahl al-"Askari> "Ali ibn Hashim> Isma"il> al-Hasan who said: "Around the time when the verse on retaliation was revealed amongst the Muslims, a man had slapped his wife. She went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace and said: "My husband has slapped me and I want retaliation". So he said: "Let there be retaliation". As he was still dealing with her, Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other"). Upon which the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: "We wanted something and my Lord wanted something different. O man, take your wife by the hand" ".

Kashf Al-Asrar

The men stand over the women through that with which God has preferred some of them over others and that which they expend of their wealth.

He gave the men more than the women because the burden is all on them, for theirs is the perfec- tion of strength and the eminence of aspiration. They carry burdens in the measure of strength or in the measure of aspiration. "Resolutions are made in the measure of the folk of resoluteness."

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

The Arabic word qawam or qawam stands for a person who is responsible for the right conduct, safeguard and maintenance of the affairs of an individual, an institution or an organization. Thus, than is governor, director, protector and manager of the affairs of women.

Men are superior to women in the sense that they have been endowed with certain natural qualities and powers that have not been given to women or have been given in a less degree, and not in the sense that they are above them in honor and excellence. Man has been made qawam (governor) of the family because of his natural qualities and woman has been made his dependent for her own safety and protection because of her natural drawbacks.

A tradition of the Holy Prophet is the best commentary on this, He said, "The best wife is the one who pleases you when you see her; who obeys your orders and who guards your property and her own honor when you are not at home. "

In this connection, it is necessary to give a warning. Obedience to Allah is of far greater importance than obedience to the husband and has precedence over it. 'therefore, it is the duty of the wife to refuse to obey her husband, if and when he orders her to do a thing which amounts to Allah's disobedience. In that case it shall be a sin to obey him. On the contrary, if the husband orders her not to observe a certain voluntary religious devotion, she must obey him, otherwise her devotion will not be accepted.

If the wife is defiant and does trot obey her husband or does not guard his rights, three measures have been mentioned, but it does not mean that all the three are to be taken at one and the same time. Though these have been permitted, they are to be administered with a sense of proportion according to the nature and extent of the offense. if a mere light admonition proves effective, there is no need to resort to a severer step. As to a beating, the Holy Prophet allowed it very reluctantly and even then did not like it. But the fact is that there are certain women who do not mend their ways without a beating. In such a case, the Holy Prophet has instructed that she would not be beaten on the face, or cruelly, or with anything which might leave a mark on the body.

"The two sides" refers both to the arbiters and to the spouses. Reconciliation can be effected in every quarrel, if the parties concerned desire it and if the arbiters try to effect it sincerely and justly.

In this verse, a plan has been put forward for settling disputes between husband and wife within the family. An effort should be made to effect a reconciliation before resorting to a court of law or making the final breach. The plan is to appoint one arbiter from the family of each spouse for this purpose. The two should probe into the real cause or causes of the dispute and then try to find a way out of it. Of course, the relatives are best qualified for it, knowing as they do the true conditions of the spouses.

Allah has left it unanswered as to who should appoint the arbiters so that each spouse may appoint one arbiter from his or her relatives, if they desire to patch up their differences, or the leaders of the two families may take the initiative and entrust the work of reconciliation to two arbiters, or if the case goes to the court, it may appoint two arbiters before taking any action.

There is a difference of opinion regarding the powers of the arbiters. According to the Hanafi and the Shafi `i schools of thought, the arbiters are not authorized to pass any final decree but may recommend measures for reconciliation, which tray be accepted or rejected by the spouses. Of course, if the spouses themselves authorize them to effect divorce or khula' or take any other measure, then they shall be bound to accept their decision. Hasan Basri, Qatadah and some other jurists are of the opinion that the arbiters are authorized to enforce reconciliation but not separation. Ibn `Abbas, Said bin Jubair, Ibrahim Nakha 'i, Sha 'bi, Muhammad bin Sirin and some other jurists are of the opinion that the arbiters have full authority to enforce their decision about reconciliation or separation whichever they consider to be proper.

Caliph Uthman and Caliph 'Ali used to authorize the arbiters appointed by theta with full powers to effect reconciliation or separation as required by the circumstances. For instance, when the case of 'Aqil, son of Abu Talib, and his wife Fatimah, daughter of 'Utbah bin Rabi'ah, was brought in the court of Caliph Uthman, he appointed as arbiter Ibn 'Abbas from the family of the husband and Mu'aviyah bin Abi Sufyan from the family of the wife and told them that they ware authorized to cause separation between them, if required by circumstances. Likewise, Caliph `Ali appointed arbiters in a similar case and authorized them to effect reconciliation between the spouses or separate them. This shows that the arbiters as such do not possess judicial powers, but if at the tithe of their appointment, the authority concerned empowers them with judicial powers, their decision shall be binding and enforced like other judicial decisions.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

(Men are in charge of women) they are in charge of overseeing the proper conduct of women, (because Allah hath made the one of them) the men through reason and the division of booty and estates (to excel the other) the women, (and because they spend of their property (for the support of women)) through paying the dowry and spending on them, which the women are not required to do. (So good women) He says: those wives who are kind to their husbands (are the obedient) they are obedient to Allah regarding their husbands, (guarding) their own persons and the wealth of their husbands (in secret) when their husbands are not present (that which Allah hath guarded) through Allah's protection of them in that He gave them the success to do so. (As for those from whom ye fear) know (rebellion) their disobedience to you in bed, (admonish them) by means of sacred knowledge and the Qur'an (and banish them to beds apart) turn your faces away from them in bed, (and scourge them) in a mild, unexaggerated manner. (Then if they obey you) in bed, (seek not a way against them) as regards love. (Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted) above every single thing, (Great) greater than every single thing. Allah has not burdened you with that which you cannot bear, so do not burden women with that which they cannot bear of affection.