The Quran

Commentaries for 2.221

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.221 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Wed not idolatresses). This was revealed about Marthad Ibn Abi Marthad Al-Ghanawi who wanted to marry an idolatress woman by the name of 'Inaq. Allah prohibited such marriage, saying: do not marry idolatresses women (till they believe) in Allah; (for lo! A believing bondwoman) marrying a believing slave woman (is better than an idolatress) who is a free woman (though she pleases you) though you may like her comeliness and beauty; (and give not your daughters in marriage to idolaters till they believe) in Allah, (for lo! A believing slave) Allah says: giving your daughters in marriage to a believing slave (is better than an idolater) is better than your daughter marrying an idolater who is free (though he pleases you) though his body and strength may please you. (These invite unto the Fire) they invite to disbelief and to works that lead to hell, (and Allah inviteth unto the Garden) by means of His divine Oneness, (and unto forgiveness) through repentance (by His grace) by His leave, (and He expoundeth thus His revelations) His commands and prohibitions regarding marriage (to mankind that they may remember) so that they may take admonition and refrain from unlawful marriage.
2.221 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
O Muslims, Do not marry idolatresses, disbelievers, until they believe; a believing slavegirl is better than an idolatress, who may be a free woman; this was revealed as a rebuttal of the idea that it was shameful to marry a slavegirl and that it was better to marry an idolatress free woman; though you may admire her, because of her beauty and wealth: this provision excludes the womenfolk of the People of the Scripture (as indicated by the verse [Q. 5:5], [lawful to you] are the chaste women among those who were given the Scripture). And do not marry, off believing women to, idolaters, until they believe. A believing slave is better than an idolater, though you may admire him, for his wealth and good looks. Those, the people of idolatry, call to the Fire, because they invite one to perform deeds that merit this, and for this reason one should not marry with them; and God calls, through the voice of His prophets, to Paradise and pardon, that is, to the deeds that merit these two, by His leave, by His will, so that His call may be heeded by marrying with His friends; and He makes clear His signs to the people so that they might remember, [that] they [might] be admonished.
2.221 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Prohibition of marrying Mushrik Men and Women
Allah prohibited the believers from marrying Mushrik women who worship idols. Although the meaning is general and includes every Mushrik woman from among the idol worshippers and the People of the Scripture, Allah excluded the People of the Scripture from this ruling. Allah stated:
مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ إِذَآ ءَاتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ
((Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time when you have given their due dowry, desiring chastity (i.e., taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal sexual intercourse.) (5:5)
`Ali bin Abu Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said about what Allah said:
وَلاَ تَنْكِحُواْ الْمُشْرِكَـتِ حَتَّى يُؤْمِنَّ
(And do not marry Al-Mushrikat (female idolators) till they believe (worship Allah Alone).) "Allah has excluded the women of the People of the Scripture.'' This is also the explanation of Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Makhul, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak, Zayd bin Aslam and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and others. Some scholars said that the Ayah is exclusively talking about idol worshippers and not the People of the Scripture, and this meaning is similar to the first meaning we mentioned. Allah knows best.
Abu Ja`far bin Jarir (At-Tabari) said, after mentioning that there is Ijma` that marrying women from the People of the Scripture is allowed, "`Umar disliked this practice so that the Muslims do not refrain from marrying Muslim women, or for similar reasons.'' An authentic chain of narrators stated that Shaqiq said: Once Hudhayfah married a Jewish woman and `Umar wrote to him, "Divorce her.'' He wrote back, "Do you claim that she is not allowed for me so that I divorce her'' He said, "No. But, I fear that you might marry the whores from among them.'' Ibn Jarir related that Zayd bin Wahb said that `Umar bin Khattab said, "The Muslim man marries the Christian woman, but the Christian man does not marry the Muslim woman.'' This Hadith has a stronger, authentic chain of narrators than the previous Hadith.
Ibn Abu Hatim said that Ibn `Umar disliked marrying the women from the People of the Scripture. He relied on his own explanation for the Ayah:
وَلاَ تَنْكِحُواْ الْمُشْرِكَـتِ حَتَّى يُؤْمِنَّ
(And do not marry Al-Mushrikat (female idolators) till they believe (worship Allah Alone).)
Al-Bukhari also reported that Ibn `Umar said, "I do not know of a bigger Shirk than her saying that Jesus is her Lord!''
Allah said:
وَلأَمَةٌ مُّؤْمِنَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكَةٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ
(And indeed a slave woman who believes is better than a (free) Mushrikah (female idolators), even though she pleases you.)
It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:
«تُنْـكَحُ الْمَرْأَةُ لِأَرْبَعٍ: لِمَالِهَا وَلِحَسَبِهَا وَلِجَمَالِهَا وَلِدِينِهَا، فَاظْفَرْ بِذَاتِ الدِّينِ، تَرِبَتْ يَدَاك»
(A woman is chosen for marriage for four reasons: her wealth, social status, beauty, and religion. So, marry the religious woman, may your hands be filled with sand (a statement of encouragement).)
Muslim reported this Hadith from Jabir. Muslim also reported that Ibn `Amr said that Allah's Messenger said:
«الدُّنْيَا مَتَاعٌ، وَخَيْرُ مَتَاعِ الدُّنْيَا الْمَرْأَةُ الصَّالِحَة»
(The life of this world is but a delight, and the best of the delights of this earthly life is the righteous wife.)
Allah then said:
وَلاَ تُنكِحُواْ الْمُشِرِكِينَ حَتَّى يُؤْمِنُواْ
(And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al-Mushrikin till they believe (in Allah Alone).) meaning, do not marry Mushrik men to believing women. This statement is similar to Allah's statement:
لاَ هُنَّ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحِلُّونَ لَهُنَّ
(They are not lawful (wives) for them, nor are they lawful (husbands) for them.) (60:10)
Next, Allah said:
وَلَعَبْدٌ مُّؤْمِنٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن مُّشْرِكٍ وَلَوْ أَعْجَبَكُمْ
(...and verily, a believing servant is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolator), even though he pleases you.)
This Ayah indicates that a believing man, even an Abyssinian servant, is better than a Mushrik man, even if he was a rich master.
أُوْلَـئِكَ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ
(Those (Al-Mushrikun) invite you to the Fire) meaning, associating and mingling with the disbelievers makes one love this life and prefer it over the Hereafter, leading to the severest repercussions. Allah said:
وَاللَّهُ يَدْعُواْ إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَالْمَغْفِرَةِ بِإِذْنِهِ
(...but Allah invites (you) to Paradise and forgiveness by His leave) meaning, by His Law, commandments and prohibitions. Allah said:
وَيُبَيِّنُ آيَـتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ
(...and makes His Ayat clear to mankind that they may remember.)
2.221 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The reason why the believers have been prohibited from marrying musrhik spouses is that `they invite you to the Fire'. This means that such marriage might mislead the Muslim spouses to the ways of shirk, for the relations between husband and wife are not merely sexual but spiritual and cultural as well. It is possible that the Muslim spouse may influence the mushrik spouse and his or her family and their offspring in favour of the Islamic way of life. But it is equally possible that the mushrik spouse may imbue the Muslim spouse, his (or her) family or their offspring, with the spirit and ways of shirk. Most probably as a result of such a marriage, a mixture of Islam and un-Islam will be bred in such a family. A non-Muslim might approve of this, but a Muslim cannot. One who sincerely believes in Islam can never take such a risk merely for the sake of the gratification of his lust. He would rather suppress his passions than do anything that might mislead him to disbelief, blasphemy and shirk or, at least mislead his progeny.
2.221 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
Do not marry idolatresses until they believe; a believing slave girl is better than an idolatress though you may admire her. And do not marry idolaters until they believe. A believing slave is better than an idolater though you may admire him. Those call to the fire; and God calls to paradise and pardon by His leave; and He makes clear His signs to the people so that they might remember. It is better to hold to the rope of religion and cling to the protection of Muslims than to be satisfied with someone [outside the faith] on a path that leads to disbelief. A concession in the law exists for this action but the deeper suggestion is to refrain and waive the right to choose it. This concerns the women of the Book with whom it is permissible to have marital relations. As for polytheists it is absolutely prohibited to have marital relations with them. It is obligatory to cut off relations with those in this category-this is an irreversible decree.
2.221 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(Wed not idolatresses till they believe…) [2:221]. Abu 'Uthman ibn 'Amr al-Hafiz informed us> his grandfather> Abu 'Amr Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Jurashi> Isma'il ibn Qutaybah> Abu Khalid> Bukayr ibn Ma'ruf> Muqatil ibn Hayyan who said: “This verse was revealed about Abu Marthad al-Ghanawi who sought the permission of the Prophet, Allah, bless him and give him peace, to marry 'Anaq, who was a poor, fairly beautiful woman from Quraysh. But this woman was an idolatress whereas Marthad was Muslim. Marthad said to the prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: 'O prophet of Allah! I like her!' Allah then revealed this verse (Wed not idolatresses till they believe…)”. Abu 'Uthman informed us> his grandfather> Abu 'Amr> Muhammad ibn Yahya> 'Amr ibn Hammad> Asbat> al-Suddi> Abu Malik> ibn 'Abbas who said regarding this verse: “This verse was revealed about 'Abd Allah ibn Rawahah who owned a black slave. It happened that 'Abd Allah punched this slave because he got angry with her. But then he became worried as a result of what he had done which made him rush to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, to inform him of what had happened. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, asked him: 'And what is it that is really making you worried?' 'Abd Allah said: 'O Messenger of Allah! She fast and prays and performs the ritual ablution in the proper way and she bears witness that there is no god but Allah and that you are His Messenger'. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: 'O 'Abd Allah! She is a believer!' 'Abd Allah said: 'By Him who has sent you with the truth, I will set her free and marry her'. And he did. A group of Muslims reproached him for doing so, saying: 'He married a slave!' This is because Muslims were still looking forward to marry idolatresses and marry their own daughters to idolaters, out of desire for their noble lineages. Allah, exalted is He, therefore revealed about them (for lo! a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress though she please you…)”. Ibn 'Abbas is reported to have said according to the narration of al-Kalbi from Abu Salih: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent a man from Ghaniyy called Marthad ibn Abi Marthad, an ally of Banu Hashim, to Mecca to try to free some Muslims who were held prisoners there. When Marthad reached Mecca, a woman called 'Anaq heard of his arrival and went to see him. This woman used to be his mistress in the pre-Islamic period but when he embraced Islam, he abandoned her. She said to him: 'Woe unto you, O Marthad! Should we not go somewhere secluded?' He said: 'Islam has placed a barrier between you and I and seclusion with you is forbidden for me. However, if you wish, I will marry you. When I return back to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, I will seek his permission and marry you'. She said to him: 'Do you refuse the like of me?' She then cried for help, and Marthad was beaten up very badly before they let him go. When he finished his business in Mecca, he went back to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and informed him about 'Anaq and what he went through because of her. He then asked: 'O Messenger of Allah! Is it lawful for me to marry her?' Allah revealed this verse forbidding him from marrying her (Wed not idolatresses till they believe…)”.