The Quran

Commentaries for 4.129

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.129 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives) as regards love, (however much ye wish (to do so)) even if you exert your efforts: (But turn not altogether away) with your bodies ((from one)) in favour of the young wife, (leaving her) the other one: the old wife (as in suspense) like a prisoner: neither unmarried nor married. (If ye do good and keep from evil) if you treat them equally and avoid transgression and aversion, (lo! Allah is ever Forgiving) of those who repent of transgression and aversion, (Merciful) towards those who die in a state of repentance.
4.129 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
You will never be able to be just to, to treat equally, your wives, in terms of love, even if you be eager, for this; yet do not turn altogether away, towards the one you love with respect to the shares and maintenance expenses, so that you leave her, the one from whom you turn away, like one suspended, one that is neither a slavegirl nor a woman with a husband. If you set things right, by being just with the shares, and fear, injustice, surely God is ever Forgiving, regarding the inclination in your hearts, Merciful, to you in this respect.
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, ".:....it 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, "....do 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
4.129 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
You will never be able to be just to your wives even if you are eager; yet do not turn altogether away so that you leave her like one suspended. If you set things right and fear surely God is ever Forgiving Merciful. [This] means when your concern is for yourself in your affairs the state of your union together is overturned and what was sound becomes ruined. But when you have made God your concern in your affairs the balance of your life together will be restored and at that time will be cleared of turmoil. It is said that if God has decreed deficiency in intellect as someone's state it will not be possible for you to set that deficiency right by your competence. Yet do not turn altogether away: [This] means do not deviate from the clear path of the command. Stop where you have been told to stop and do what you have been commanded to do. So that you leave her like one suspended: [This] means that when you prevent them from being with someone other than you even as you cut them off from any share of you you harm [them] in two ways for there is nothing to be had from you and there [is] no way for them to be with someone else. This harm is very grave. The allusion in this [verse] is that when the path to your share in worldly things is blocked He سبحانه enables you to witness His reality to you and find His kindness. Surely whoever's annihilation is in God fa-inna man kāna fī Allāh talafuhu the Real is his substitute fa-l-ḥaqq subḥānahu khalafuhu. If you set things right between you and other created beings wa-in tuṣliḥū mā baynakum wa-bayna al-khalq and put your trust in what is between you and the Real wa-tathiqū fīmā baynakum wa-bayna al-ḥaqq surely God is ever forgiving of your failings fa-inna Allāha ghafūrun li-ʿuyūbikum merciful in pardoning your sins raḥīmun bi-l-ʿafwi ʿan dhunūbikum.