The Quran

Commentaries for 4.128

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.128 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(If a woman) i.e. 'Umayrah (feareth) is aware of (ill treatment) i.e. refrains from having sex with her (from her husband) As'ad Ibn al-Rabi', (or desertion) not speaking or sitting with her, (it is no sin for them twain) the man and the woman (if they make terms of peace between themselves) between the husband and wife whereby both of them are made content. (Peace) such that the wife is pleased (is better) than transgression and aversion. (But greed hath been made present in the minds) souls are naturally inclined to be parsimonious, such that the wife withholds the share of her husband; it is also said that this means: her greed drives her to be pleased. (If ye do good) if you are equal in your treatment of the young wife and the elderly wife in the estates and maintenance (and keep from evil) avoid transgression and aversion, (Lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do) of transgression and aversion.
4.128 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And if a woman (wa-in imra’atun is in the nominative because of [it being the subject of] the explicative verb [that follows]) fears, anticipates, from her husband ill-treatment, if he looks down on her by refraining to sleep with her or by not maintaining her adequately, because he is averse to her and aspires to one more beautiful than her, or rejection, turning his face away from her, they are not at fault if they are reconciled through some agreement, in terms of shares and maintenance expenses, so that she concedes something to him in return for continuing companionship; if she agrees to this [then that is fine], but if [she does] not, then the husband must either give her all her due, or part with her (an yassālahā, ‘they reconcile’: the original tā’ [of yatasālahā] has been assimilated with the sād; a variant reading has an yuslihā, from [the fourth form] aslaha); reconciliation is better, than separation, ill-treatment or rejection. God, exalted be He, in explaining the natural disposition of man, says: But greed has been made present in the souls (al-shuhh is extreme niggardliness), meaning that they have a natural propensity for this, as if they [the souls] are ever in its presence, never absent from it. The meaning is: a woman would scarcely allow [another] to share her husband with her, and a man would scarcely allow her [to enjoy] him if he were to fall in love with another. If you are virtuous, in your conjugal life with women, and fear, being unjust to them, surely God is ever aware of what you do, and He will requite you for it.
4.128-130 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Ruling Concerning Desertion on the Part of the Husband
Allah states, and thus legislates accordingly, that sometimes, the man inclines away from his wife, sometimes towards her and sometimes he parts with her. In the first case, when the wife fears that her husband is steering away from her or deserting her, she is allowed to forfeit all or part of her rights, such as provisions, clothing, dwelling, and so forth, and the husband is allowed to accept such concessions from her. Hence, there is no harm if she offers such concessions, and if her husband accepts them. This is why Allah said,
فَلاَ جُنَاْحَ عَلَيْهِمَآ أَن يُصْلِحَا بَيْنَهُمَا صُلْحاً
(there is no sin on them both if they make terms of peace between themselves;) He then said,
وَالصُّلْحُ خَيْرٌ
(and making peace is better) than divorce. Allah's statement,
وَأُحْضِرَتِ الأنفُسُ الشُّحَّ
(And human souls are swayed by greed.) means, coming to peaceful terms, even when it involves forfeiting some rights, is better than parting. Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Sawdah feared that the Messenger of Allah might divorce her and she said, `O Messenger of Allah! Do not divorce me; give my day to `A'ishah.' And he did, and later on Allah sent down,
وَإِنِ امْرَأَةٌ خَـفَتْ مِن بَعْلِهَا نُشُوزاً أَوْ إِعْرَاضاً فَلاَ جُنَاْحَ عَلَيْهِمَآ
(And if a woman fears cruelty or desertion on her husband's part, there is no sin on them both) Ibn `Abbas said, "Whatever (legal agreement) the spouses mutually agree to is allowed.''. At-Tirmidhi recorded it and said, "Hasan Gharib''. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that `A'ishah said that when Sawdah bint Zam`ah became old, she forfeited her day to `A'ishah, and the Prophet used to spend Sawdah's night with `A'ishah. There is a similar narration also collected by Al-Bukhari. Al-Bukhari also recorded that `A'ishah commented;
وَإِنِ امْرَأَةٌ خَـفَتْ مِن بَعْلِهَا نُشُوزاً أَوْ إِعْرَاضاً
(And if a woman fears cruelty or desertion on her husband's part), that it refers to, "A man who is married to an old woman, and he does not desire her and wants to divorce her. So she says, `I forfeit my right on you.' So this Ayah was revealed.''
Meaning of "Making Peace is Better
Allah said,
وَالصُّلْحُ خَيْرٌ
(And making peace is better). `Ali bin Abi Talhah related that Ibn `Abbas said that the Ayah refers to, "When the husband gives his wife the choice between staying with him or leaving him, as this is better than the husband preferring other wives to her.'' However, the apparent wording of the Ayah refers to the settlement where the wife forfeits some of the rights she has over her husband, with the husband agreeing to this concession, and that this settlement is better than divorce. For instance, the Prophet kept Sawdah bint Zam`ah as his wife after she offered to forfeit her day for `A'ishah. By keeping her among his wives, his Ummah may follow this kind of settlement. Since settlement and peace are better with Allah than parting, Allah said,
وَالصُّلْحُ خَيْرٌ
(and making peace is better). Divorce is not preferred with Allah. The meaning of Allah's statement,
وَإِن تُحْسِنُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيراً
(But if you do good and have Taqwa, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do) if you are patient with the wife you dislike and treat her as other wives are treated, then Allah knows what you do and will reward you for it perfectly. Allah's statement,
وَلَن تَسْتَطِيعُواْ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ بَيْنَ النِّسَآءِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ
(You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire,) means, O people! You will never be able to be perfectly just between wives in every respect. Even when one divides the nights justly between wives, there will still be various degrees concerning love, desire and sexual intimacy, as Ibn `Abbas, `Ubaydah As-Salmani, Mujahid, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim stated. Imam Ahmad and the collectors of the Sunan recorded that `A'ishah said, "The Messenger of Allah used to treat his wives equally and proclaim,
«اللَّهُمَّ هَذَا قَسْمِي فِيمَا أَمْلِكُ، فَلَا تَلُمْنِي فِيمَا تَمْلِكُ وَلَا أَمْلِك»
(O Allah! This is my division in what I own, so do not blame me for what You own and I do not own) referring to his heart. This was the wording that Abu Dawud collected, and its chain of narrators is Sahih. Allah's statement,
فَلاَ تَمِيلُواْ كُلَّ الْمَيْلِ
(so do not incline too much to one of them) means, when you like one of your wives more than others, do not exaggerate in treating her that way,
فَتَذَرُوهَا كَالْمُعَلَّقَةِ
(so as to leave the other hanging. ) referring to the other wives. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan said that Mu`allaqah hanging means, "She is neither divorced nor married.'' Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«مَنْ كَانَتْ لَهُ امْرَأَتَانِ فَمَالَ إِلى إِحْدَاهُمَا، جَاءَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَأَحَدُ شِقَّيْهِ سَاقِط»
(Whoever has two wives and inclines to one of them (too much), will come on the Day of Resurrection with one of his sides dragging.) Allah's statement,
وَإِن تُصْلِحُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً
(And if you do justice, and do all that is right and have Taqwa, then Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) The Ayah states: If you do justice and divide equally in what you have power over, while fearing Allah in all conditions, then Allah will forgive you the favoritism that you showed to some of your wives. Allah then said,
وَإِن يَتَفَرَّقَا يُغْنِ اللَّهُ كُلاًّ مِّن سَعَتِهِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ وَسِعاً حَكِيماً
(But if they separate (divorce), Allah will provide abundance for everyone of them from His bounty. And Allah is Ever All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs, All-Wise. ) This is the third case between husband and wife, in which divorce occurs. Allah states that if the spouses separate by divorce, then Allah will suffice them by giving him a better wife and her a better husband. The meaning of,
وَكَانَ اللَّهُ وَسِعاً حَكِيماً
(And Allah is Ever All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs, All-Wise.) is: His favor is tremendous, His bounty is enormous and He is All-Wise in all His actions, decisions and commandments.
4.128-129 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This verdict mentioned in v.127 as been given in this paragraph tw.128-134). In order to understand it, one should grasp the nature of the problems to which this is the answer.
one liked without conceding any rights to them. But these verses limited the maximum number of wives to four and conceded the rights of dower to them and laid down the conditions of justice and equitable treatment for marrying more than one wife. As it appeared impossible to fulfill these conditions in certain cases, e.g.. if one's wife was barren or invalid or had lost attraction for him or was not fit for conjugal relationship, some problems arose when one married the second wife: was it a compulsory condition that one should show equal inclination towards both the wives or love them equally or show equality in the conjugal relations with them? Or, if this was not possible, did justice require that one should divorce the first wife before marrying the second? Or, if the first wife did not wish to part with her husband, would it be against the requirement of justice if she gave up some of her own rights to prevent her husband from divorcing her'' This para answers such questions.
That is, it is better for a woman to make a settlement with him by yielding some of her rights and live with the husband with whom she had lived a part of her life than to get a divorce and separate from him.
Narrow-mindedness on the part of the wife is that even when she knows that she has lost those qualities that make a wife attractive to her husband, she should expect and demand the same kind of treatment that is shown only to a beloved wife. On the other hand, the husband shall be narrow-minded if he suppresses too much the rights of the wife who has lost attraction for him but who still wants to live with him, and reduces her rights to an unbearable point.
Allah has again appealed to the husband as He generally does in such matters, 'to show generosity to the wife. He has urged him to be generous to her, for she has been his companion for years even though she might have lost charm for him. He should tear God and imagine how he would fare if God withheld His favors from him on account of some defects in him.
Allah has made it clear that the husband cannot literally keep equality between two or more wives because they themselves cannot be equal in all respects. It is too much to demand from a husband that he should mete out equal treatment to a beautiful wife and to an ugly wife, to a young wife and to an old wife, to a healthy wife and to an invalid wife and to a good natured wife and to an ill-natured wife. These and like things naturally make a husband more inclined towards one wife than towards the other. In such cases, the Islamic Law does not demand equal treatment between them in affection and love. What it does demand is that a wife should not be so neglected as to be practically reduced to the position of the woman who has no husband at all. If the husband does not divorce her for any reason or at her own request, she should at least be treated as a wife. It is true that under such circumstances the husband is naturally more inclined towards a favorite wife, but he should not, so to say, keep the other in such a state of suspense as if she were not his wife.
From this verse some people wrongly conclude that though the Qur'an allows more than one wife, it practically cancels this permission by asserting, " is not possible for you to be perfectly equitable in your treatment with all your wives...." They forget that this is only a part of the whole instruction and the Qur'an does not stop at this but adds, " not lean towards one wife...." As this Commandment takes into consideration the existence of more than one wife allowed by the Qur'an, it leaves no loophole of escape for the followers of Christian Europe from the fact that Islam does allow polygamy under certain conditions.
As Allah is Forgiving and Compassionate, He will forgive any of the shortcomings that are unavoidable because of natural factors, provided that one is not guilty of deliberate injustice, and tries his best to be just as far as it is humanly possible
4.128 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And if a woman fears from her husband ill-treatment or rejection iʿrāḌ they are not at fault if they are reconciled through some agreement; reconciliation is better. But greed has been made present in the souls. If you are virtuous and fear surely God is ever aware of what you do. When the companionship of created beings becomes disconnected from the discourse of the Real [there is] a risk of alienation and blame al-waḥsha wa-l-malāma and [it] becoming mixed with aversion and disgust alnafra wa-l-saÌāma. Whoever rejects ʿarada God in his heart-created beings [will] reject consideration for his right. They all come out against him find his affair pathetic bi-istiṣghāri amrihi and regard his worth as contemptible wa-ishtiḥqāri qadrihi. But whoever returns to God in his heart his affair will be restored to balance as a whole and in its particulars. His chest will expand with the capacity to bear the bad traits he finds in others and he will draw the cloak of pardon over the defects of all of them and prefer reconciliation ṣulḥ by abandoning his own portion in favor of theirs. God most high said “Reconciliation is better.” To ignore your aversion to those who quarrel with you is more appropriate and more advantageous for you than being arrogant with your foe and wanting revenge and the acknowledgment of your privileges. Most people are in the fetters of this tribulation. But greed has been made present in the souls: The greed of the lower self is the concern of the servant for his worldly portion. Whoever is veiled from witnessing the Real is inevitably brought back to witnessing the lower self. If you are virtuous: [This] means that would be better for you. Being virtuous iḥsān is that you worship God as if you see him. And fear: [This] means [fear] to look at your own status and worth. Rather look to your Lord and in seeing Him be annihilated from any vision of your own worth. Surely God is ever aware of what you do: [This] means that once you have been annihilated from yourselves and your acts God suffices as Knower [4:70] after your annihilation and He suffices as the Giver of existence following your effacement.
4.128 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(If a woman feareth ill treatment…) [4:128]. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn al-Harith informed us> 'Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Ja'far> Abu Yahya> Sahl> 'Abd al-Rahim ibn Sulayman> Hisham> 'Urwah> 'A'ishah who said concerning the words of Allah, exalted is He, (If a woman feareth ill treatment from her husband…): “This was revealed regarding the case of a woman who does not bear children for her husband and, because of this, he wants to divorce her; or it could be about a women who has friends and children whom she does not like to be separated from and so she tells her husband who intends to divorce her: 'Do not divorce me; keep me with you and, in exchange, I forgo all the rights due to me'. And so this verse was revealed”. This was narrated by Bukhari> Muhammad ibn Muqatil> Ibn al-Mubarak, and also by Muslim from Abu Kurayb> Abu Usamah, and both Ibn al-Mubarak and Abu Usamah related it from Hisham. Abu Bakr al-Hiri informed us> Muhammad ibn Ya'qub>> al-Rabi'> al-Shafi'i> Ibn 'Uyaynah> al-Zuhri> Ibn al-Musayyab who related that the daughter of Muhammad ibn Maslamah was married to Rafi' ibn Khadij but he wanted to divorce her because of something he disliked in her, it was either arrogance or something else. She said to him: “Do not divorce me, and you are free to apportion for me whatever you like”. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse (If a woman feareth ill treatment from her husband…).