The Quran

Commentaries for 4.16

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.16 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And as for the two of you) of your free people, i.e. any unmarried man or woman (who are guilty thereof) who are guilty of adultery, (punish them both) by maligning and upbraiding them. (And if they repent) after this (and improve) in relation to that which is between them and Allah, (then let them be) refrain from maligning and upbraiding them. (Lo! Allah is Relenting) He overlooks sins, (Merciful). Maligning and upbraiding the unmarried person who commits adultery was later abrogated and replaced by one hundred lashes for both parties.
4.16 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And when two of you (read wa’lladhāni or wa’lladhānni) men, commit it, that is, a lewd act, adultery or homosexual intercourse, punish them both, with insults and beatings with sandals; but if they repent, of this [lewd act], and make amends, through [good] action, then leave them be, and do not harm them. God ever turns [relenting], to those who repent, and is Merciful, to them. This [verse] is abrogated by the prescribed punishment if adultery is meant [by the lewd act], and similarly if homosexual intercourse is meant, according to al-Shāfi‘ī; but according to him, the person who is the object of the [penetrative] act is not stoned, even if he be married; rather, he is flogged and banished. Judging by the dual person pronoun, it seems more obvious that homosexual fornication is meant [by this verse], even though the former [sc. al-Shāfi‘ī] was of the opinion that it referred to an adulterer and an adulteress; but this [opinion of his] may be countered by the fact that [the reference to] the two [men] becomes clear on account of the particle min being attached to a masculine pronoun [minkum, ‘of you’], and by the fact that they suffer the same punishment, [both effect the action of] repentance and [are both granted] that they be left alone [thereafter], [all of] which applies specifically to men, given that for women detention is stipulated, as was stated before.
4.15-16 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Adulteress is Confined in her House; A Command Later Abrogated
At the begining of Islam, the ruling was that if a woman commits adultery as stipulated by sufficient proof, she was confined to her home, without leave, until she died. Allah said,
وَاللَـتِى يَأْتِينَ الْفَـحِشَةَ
يعني الزنا
مِن نِّسَآئِكُمْ فَاسْتَشْهِدُواْ عَلَيْهِنَّ أَرْبَعةً مِّنْكُمْ فَإِن شَهِدُواْ فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ فِى الْبُيُوتِ حَتَّى يَتَوَفَّاهُنَّ الْمَوْتُ أَوْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلاً
(And those of your women who commit illegal sexual intercourse, take the evidence of four witnesses from among you against them; and if they testify, confine them (i.e. women) to houses until death comes to them or Allah ordains for them some (other) way.) `Some other way' mentioned here is the abrogation of this ruling that came later. Ibn `Abbas said, "The early ruling was confinement, until Allah sent down Surat An-Nur (chapter 24) which abrogated that ruling with the ruling of flogging (for fornication) or stoning to death (for adultery).'' Similar was reported from `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan, `Ata' Al-Khurasani, Abu Salih, Qatadah, Zayd bin Aslam and Ad-Dahhak, and this is a matter that is agreed upon. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Ubadah bin As-Samit said, "When the revelation descended upon the Messenger of Allah, it would affect him and his face would show signs of strain. One day, Allah sent down a revelation to him, and when the Messenger was relieved of its strain, he said,
«خُذُوا عَنِّي، قَدْ جَعَلَ اللهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا، الثَّيِّبُ بِالثَّيِّبِ، وَالْبِكْرُ بِالْبِكْرِ، الثَّــيِّبُ جَلْدُ مِائَةٍ، وَرَجْمٌ بِالْحِجَارَةِ، وَالْبِكْرُ جَلْدُ مِائَةٍ ثُمَّ نَفْيُ سَنَة»
(Take from me: Allah has made some other way for them. The married with the married, the unmarried with the unmarried. The married gets a hundred lashes and stoning to death, while the unmarried gets a hundred lashes then banishment for a year.)'' Muslim and the collectors of the Sunan recorded that `Ubadah bin As-Samit said that the Prophet said,
«خُذُوا عَنِّي خُذُوا عَنِّي، قَدْ جَعَلَ اللهُ لَهُنَّ سَبِيلًا، الْبِكْرُ بِالْبِكْرِ جَلْدُ مِائَةٍ وَتَغْرِيبُ عَامٍ، وَالثَّيِّبُ بِالثَّيِّبِ جَلْدُ مِائَةٍ وَالرَّجْم»
(Take from me, take from me. Allah has made some other way for them: the (unmarried) gets a hundred lashes and banishment for one year, while the (married) gets a hundred lashes and stoning to death.) At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Sahih''. Allah said,
وَاللَّذَانَ يَأْتِيَـنِهَا مِنكُمْ فَـَاذُوهُمَا
(And the two persons among you who commit illegal sexual intercourse, punish them both.) Ibn `Abbas and Sa`id bin Jubayr said that this punishment includes cursing, shaming them and beating them with sandals. This was the ruling until Allah abrogated it with flogging or stoning, as we stated. Mujahid said, "It was revealed about the case of two men who do it.'' As if he was referring to the actions of the people of Lut, and Allah knows best. The collectors of Sunan recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«مَنْ رَأَيْتُمُوهُ يَعْمَلُ عَمَلَ قَوْمِ لُوطٍ، فَاقْتُلُوا الْفَاعِلَ وَالْمَفْعُولَ بِه»
(Whoever you catch committing the act of the people of Lut (homosexuality), then kill both parties to the act.) Allah said,
فَإِن تَابَا وَأَصْلَحَا
(And if they repent and do righteous good deeds), by refraining from that evil act, and thereafter their actions become righteous,
فَأَعْرِضُواْ عَنْهُمَآ
(leave them alone), do not verbally abuse them after that, since he who truly repents is just like he who has no sin,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ تَوَّاباً رَّحِيماً
(Surely, Allah is Ever the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.) The following is recorded in the Two Sahihs:
«إِذَا زَنَتْ أَمَةُ أَحَدِكُمْ، فَلْيَجْلِدْهَا الْحَدَّ، وَلَا يُثَرِّبْ عَلَيْهَا»
(When the slave-girl of one of you commits illegal sexual intercouse, let him flog her and not chastise her afterwards. ) because the lashes she receives erase the sin that she has committed.
4.15-16 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In both these verses (15-16j, punishment for fornication was prescribed for the first time in Islam. According to verse 15, the guilty women were to be kept in confinement till further order, and according to verse I G both the male and the female guilty of fornication were to be punished, that is rebuked. disgraced, beaten, etc. Afterwards this punishment was altered by verse 2 of Surah An-Nur (XXIV). Now both the male and the female are to be scourged with one hundred stripes each.
This gradual enforcement of the criminal law was based on sound practical wisdom. At that tithe the Arabs were not accustomed to live under a settled government with a regular system of law and judiciary. Therefore it might have unwise and too much for them, if the Islamic State had imposed on them its complete system of criminal laws all at once. That is why at first the sort of punishment contained in these two verses was enforced acid then gradually stricter punishments were prescribed for fornication. theft, slander, etc., and finally that complete system of law was evolved which was in force during the time of the Holy Prophet and his rightly guided successors.
The seeming difference in these two verses has misled commentator Suddi to the conclusion that verse I S prescribed the punishment for married women and verse I G for unmarried men and women. Obviously, this flimsy commentary is not supported by any sound argument. Likewise, the commentary of Abu Muslim Isfahani that verse 15 is about the un-natural crime between two females and verse I G about the un-natural crime between two males is also wrong. The Qur'an is concerned only with the fundamental principles of law and morality: therefore it only discusses those problems which are confronted in normal life and does not concern itself with the ones that are met with under abnormal circumstances. These latter problems, as they arise, are left for the people to decide according to their insight. That is why, when after the death of the Holy Prophet the case of unnatural crime between two males was brought before the Companions, none of them turned to these verses for its decision.
4.16 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And when two of you commit it punish them both; but if they repent and make amends then leave them be. God ever turns [relenting] and is Merciful. The command to various modes of punishment for those who do this act is the strongest way to kindly communicate [the advice] to prevent and stay away from it so that the servant might be on his guard and not become deserving of the greater punishment.