Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(They consult thee concerning women) they ask you about the inheritance of women; the one who asked him was 'Uyaynah. (Say: Allah giveth to you decree) expounds to you the legal ruling (concerning them) concerning their inheritance, (and the Scripture) at the beginning of this surah (which hath been recited unto you (giveth decree), concerning female orphans) the daughters of Umm Kuhhah (unto whom ye give not that which is ordained for them) that which is prescribed for them of inheritance; Allah has already explained this at the beginning of the surah (though you desire to marry them) you refrain from marrying them because they are not attractive, so now give them their wealth so that you may desire to marry them for that which they have, (and (concerning) the weak among children) and He expounds to you the inheritance of children, (and that ye should deal justly with orphans) He explains to you that you should protect justly and fairly the wealth of orphans. (Whatever good ye do) by being kind to them, (lo! Allah is ever Aware of it) as well as of your intentions.
They will ask you for a pronouncement concerning, the matter of, women, and their inheritance. Say, to them: ‘God pronounces to you concerning them, and what is recited to you in the Book, the Qur’ān, in the ‘inheritance’ verse [Q. 4:11], and He also pronounces to you, concerning the orphan women to whom you do not give what is prescribed, [what] is obligatory, for them, of inheritance, for you, O guardians, [who] desire, not, to marry them, because of their ugliness, and you prevent them from marrying [others], coveting their inheritance: in other words, God pronounces to you not to do this; and, concerning, the oppressed, young, children, that you give them what is their due, and, He also commands you, that you deal justly, equitably, with orphans, with respect to inheritance and dowry. Whatever good you do, God is ever Knower of it’, and He will requite you for it.
(They ask your instruction concerning women. Say, "Allah instructs you about them...) until,
وَتَرْغَبُونَ أَن تَنكِحُوهُنَّ
(whom you desire to marry...) "It is about the man who is taking care of a female orphan, being her caretaker and inheritor. Her money is joined with his money to such an extent, that she shares with him even the branch of a date that he has. So he likes (for material gain) to marry her himself, and hates to marry her to another man who would have a share in his money, on account of her share in his money. Therefore, he refuses to let her marry anyone else. So, this Ayah was revealed.'' Muslim also recorded it. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `A'ishah said, "The people asked Allah's Messenger (about orphan girls), so Allah revealed,
(They ask your instruction concerning women. Say, "Allah instructs you about them and about what is recited unto you in the Book...") What is meant by Allah's saying, `And about what is recited unto you in the Book' is the former verse which said,
(If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice.)'' `A'ishah said, "Allah's statement,
وَتَرْغَبُونَ أَن تَنكِحُوهُنَّ
(whom you desire to marry...) also refers to the desire of the guardian not to marry an orphan girl under his supervision when she lacks property or beauty. The guardians were forbidden to marry their orphan girls possessing property and beauty without being just to them, as they generally refrain from marrying them (when they are neither beautiful nor wealthy).'' The basis of this is recorded in Two Sahihs. Consequently, when a man is the caretaker of a female orphan, he might like to marry her himself. In this case, Allah commands him to give her a suitable dowry that other women of her status get. If he does not want to do that, then let him marry other women, for Allah has made this matter easy for Muslims. Sometimes, the caretaker does not desire to marry the orphan under his care, because she is not attractive to his eye. In this case, Allah forbids the caretaker from preventing the female orphan from marrying another man for fear that her husband would share in the money that is mutually shared between the caretaker and the girl. `Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said, "During the time of Jahiliyyah, the caretaker of a female orphan would cover her with his rope, and when he did that, no man would marry her. If she was beautiful and he desired to marry her, he married her and took control of her wealth. If she was not beautiful, he did not allow her to marry until she died, and when she died he inherited her money. Allah prohibited and outlawed this practice. '' He also said about Allah's statement,
وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الْوِلْدَنِ
(and the children who are weak and oppressed,) that during the time of Jahiliyyah, they used to deny young children and females a share of inheritance. So Allah's statement,
لاَ تُؤْتُونَهُنَّ مَا كُتِبَ لَهُنَّ
(you give not what they deserve) thus prohibiting this practice and designating a fixed share for each,
لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الاٍّنْثَيَيْنِ
(To the male, a portion equal to that of two females..) whether they were young or old, as Sa`id bin Jubayr and others stated. Sa`id bin Jubayr said about Allah's statement,
وَأَن تَقُومُواْ لِلْيَتَـمَى بِالْقِسْطِ
(and that you stand firm for justice to orphans.) "Just as when she is beautiful and wealthy you would want to marry her and have her for yourself, so when she is not wealthy or beautiful, marry her and have her for yourself.'' Allah's statement,
r(And whatever good you do, Allah is Ever All-Aware of it.) encourages performing the good deeds and fulfilling the commandments, and states that Allah is knowledgeable of all of this and He will reward for it in the best and most perfect manner.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
It has not been stated here what the people were asking concerning women, but the answer given to it in verse 128 points out the nature of the question.
This is not the answer to the question but a sort of reminder of the commandments that have already been enjoined in vv. i-14 of this Surah about orphan girls in particular and the orphans in general in order to stress the importance of this matter in any scheme of social reform. It is because of its importance in the solution of social problems that before giving a verdict concerning marriage problems which were raised, Allah has again laid emphasis on the rights of orphans.
The allusion is to v.3 of this Surah: "If you are afraid of doing injustice to the orphans...."
The words of the Text may also mean, "......whom you desire to marry." We learn from a Tradition of Hadrat 'A'ishah that the Text implies both the meanings. She says, "Those people who had the charge of the orphan girls who inherited wealth, employed different methods of doing injustice to them. If an orphan girl was wealthy and also beautiful, they would desire to marry her so that they might exploit her wealth and enjoy her beauty without incurring any financial liability. If she was wealthy but ugly, they would neither themselves marry her no let anyone else marry her, so that she might not get a protector who might claim tor her right from the guardian."
The allusion is to the Commandments concerning the rights of orphans, given in vv. 1-14 of the Surah.
They will ask you for a pronouncement concerning women. Say: “God pronounces to you concerning them and what is recited to you in the Book concerning the orphan women to whom you do not give what is prescribed for them for you desire to marry them and the oppressed children and that you deal justly with orphans. Whatever good you do God is ever Knower of it.” He prohibited [men] from coveting that which would lead them to do harm or wrong to oppressed women and orphans. He explained that God is their avenger and that whoever is heedful of God regarding them will not lose anything on account of God but rather will find a beautiful recompense jamīl al-jazāÌ. But whoever abuses them will suffer because of that a painful tribulation alīm al-balāÌ.
(They consult thee concerning women…) [4:127]. The judge Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Hasan informed us> Muhammad ibn Ya'qub>> Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abd al-Hakam> Ibn Wahb> Yunus> Ibn Shihab> 'Urwah ibn al-Zubayr> 'A'ishah who said: “People asked the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, for the legal ruling concerning them after the revelation of this verse about them, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse (They consult thee concerning women. Say: Allah giveth you decree concerning them, and the Scripture which hath been recited unto you (giveth decree)…)”. That which has been recited unto him in the Scripture refers to the first verse in which He says (And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans…) [4:3]. And Allah, exalted is He, says in the other verse (though ye desire to marry them), i.e. one of you desires to marry the orphan under his care when she is not of great beauty or possesses a lot of wealth. Thus, men were warned against marrying the orphaned because of their beauty or out of desire for their wealth, unless one was prepared to deal with them fairly, for the trend was that men shunned those orphans who had no wealth or were not beautiful. This was narrated by Muslim from Harmalah from Ibn Wahb.