The Quran

Commentaries for 4.8

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.8 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And when kinsfolk) who are not entitled to receive a share of the inheritance (and orphans) the orphans of believers before the division of the inheritance (and the needy) the needy among believers (are present at the division) of the heritage, (bestow on them there from) give them something of the inheritance before you proceed to divide it upon those who are entitled to receive it (and speak kindly unto them) if the inheritor has not yet reached the age of puberty, by promising them to speak to the inheritor about giving them something.
4.8 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And when the division, of the inheritance, is attended by kinsmen, those of kinship who cannot inherit, and orphans and the poor, grant them, something, out of it, before the division [is effected]; and, if the inheritors are young, speak to them, O guardians, honourable words, kindly, by apologising to them that it is not your possession [to divide as you wish], but that it is for the young [inheritors]. Some say that this [stipulation] was abrogated; others say that it was not, only that people were all too readily neglecting it, since it was encouraged [but not prescribed]. According to Ibn ‘Abbās, however, it is a duty.
4.7-10 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Necessity of Surrendering the Inheritance According to the Portions that Allah Ordained
Sa`id bin Jubayr and Qatadah said, "The idolators used to give adult men a share of inheritance and deprive women and children of it. Allah revealed;
لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصيِبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَلِدَنِ وَالاٌّقْرَبُونَ
(There is a share for men from what is left by parents and those nearest in relation).'' Therefore, everyone is equal in Allah's decision to inherit, even though their shares vary according to the degree of their relationship to the deceased, whether being a relative, spouse, etc. Ibn Marduwyah reported that Jabir said, "Umm Kujjah came to the Messenger of Allah and said to him, `O Messenger of Allah! I have two daughters whose father died, and they do not own anything.' So Allah revealed;
لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصيِبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَلِدَنِ وَالاٌّقْرَبُونَ
(There is a share for men from what is left by parents and those nearest in relation.)'' We will mention this Hadith when explaining the two Ayat about inheritance. Allah knows best. Allah said,
وَإِذَا حَضَرَ الْقِسْمَةَ
(are present at the time of division,) those who do not have a share in the inheritance,
وَالْيَتَـمَى وَالْمَسَـكِينُ
(and the orphans and the poor), are also present upon dividing the inheritance, give them a share of the inheritance. Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Ayah,
وَإِذَا حَضَرَ الْقِسْمَةَ أُوْلُواْ الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَـمَى وَالْمَسَـكِينُ
(And when the relatives and the orphans and the poor are present at the time of division), was not abrogated. Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that this Ayah still applies and should be implemented. Ath-Thawri said that Ibn Abi Najih narrated from Mujahid that implementing this Ayah, "Is required from those who have anything to inherit, paid from whatever portions their hearts are satisfied with giving away.'' Similar explanation was reported from Ibn Mas`ud, Abu Musa, `Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Bakr, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ash-Sha`bi and Al-Hasan. Ibn Sirin, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Makhul, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, `Ata' bin Abi Rabah, Az-Zuhri and Yahya bin Ya`mar said this payment is obligatory. Others say that this refers to the bequeathal at the time of death. And others say that it was abrogated. Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said that this Ayah,
وَإِذَا حَضَرَ الْقِسْمَةَ
(And when are present at the time of division), refers to divisions of inheritance. So, when poor relatives, who are ineligible for inheritance, orphans, and the poor attend the division of the inheritance, which is sometimes substantial, their hearts will feel eager to have a share, seeing each eligible person assuming his share; while they are desperate, yet are not given anything. Allah the Most Kind, Most Compassionate, commands that they should have a share in the inheritance as an act of kindness, charity, compassion and mercy for them.
Observing Fairness in the Will
Allah said,
وَلْيَخْشَ الَّذِينَ لَوْ تَرَكُواْ مِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ
(And let those have the same fear in their minds as they would have for their own, if they had left behind...) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said that this part of the Ayah, "Refers to a man who is near death and he dictates a will and testament that harms some of the rightful inheritors. Allah commands whoever hears such will to fear Allah, and direct the dying man to do what is right and to be fair, being as eager to protect the inheritors of the dying man as he would be with his own.'' Similar was reported from Mujahid and several others. The Two Sahihs record that when the Messenger of Allah visited Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas during an illness he suffered from, Sa`d said to the Messenger, "O Messenger of Allah! I am wealthy and have no inheritors except a daughter. Should I give two-thirds of my property in charity'' He said, "No.'' Sa`d asked, "Half'' He said, "No.'' Sa`d said, "One-third'' The Prophet said;
«الثُّلُثُ، وَالثُّلُثُ كَثِير»
(One-third, and even one-third is too much.) The Messenger of Allah then said,
«إِنَّكَ أَنْ تَذَرَ وَرَثَتَكَ أَغْنِيَاءَ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَنْ تَذَرَهُمْ عَالَةً يَتَكَفَّفُونَ النَّاس»
(You'd better leave your inheritors wealthy rather than leaving them poor, begging from others.)
A Stern Warning Against Those Who Use Up the Orphan's Wealth
It was also said that the Ayah
وَلاَ تَأْكُلُوهَآ إِسْرَافاً وَبِدَاراً أَن يَكْبَرُواْ
(consume it not wastefully and hastily, fearing that they should grow up,) means, let them have Taqwa of Allah when taking care of the orphan's wealth, as Ibn Jarir recorded from Al-`Awfi who reported this explanation from Ibn `Abbas. This is a sound opinion that is supported by the warning that follows against consuming the orphan's wealth unjustly. In this case, the meaning becomes: Just as you would want your offspring to be treated fairly after you, then treat other people's offspring fairly when you are given the responsibility of caring for them. Allah proclaims that those who unjustly consume the wealth of orphans, will be eating fire into their stomach, this is why Allah said,
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَلَ الْيَتَـمَى ظُلْماً إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِى بُطُونِهِمْ نَاراً وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيراً
(Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire!) meaning, when you consume the orphan's wealth without a right, then you are only consuming fire, which will kindle in your stomach on the Day of Resurrection. It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«اجْتَنِبُوا السَّبْعَ الْمُوبِقَات»
(Avoid the seven great destructive sins. ) The people asked, "O Allah's Messenger! What are they'' He said,
«الشِّرْكُ بِاللهِ، وَالسِّحْرُ، وَقَتْلُ النَّفْسِ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ، وَأَكْلُ الرِّبَا، وَأَكْلُ مَالِ الْيَتِيمِ، وَالتَّوَلِّي يَوْمَ الزَّحْفِ، وَقَذْفُ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ الْغَافِلَات»
(To join others in worship along with Allah, magic, to kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause, to consume interest, to consume an orphan's property, to turn your back to the enemy and flee from the battlefield at the time of fighting, and to accuse chaste women who never even think of anything harmful to their chastity being good believers.)
4.8 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Here the heirs of the deceased have been enjoined to be generous towards distant and near relatives and the indigent members of the family and orphans who happen to be present on the occasion of the division of inheritance, though they might have no share in it. They should give them also something and speak gently to them and avoid using harsh and unkind words as the narrow minded people generally use on such occasions.
4.8 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And when the division is attended by kinsmen and orphans and the poor grant them out of it; and speak to them honorable words. When the division of the inheritance is attended by those who are [to be] the possessors of its shares and are the legal heirs and others [also] attend who have no [legal] portion and who are poor do not deprive them of that. If the legal heir is a minor make to [the poor] a goodly promise saying to them “When the child grows up we will tell him to give you something.” This is the meaning of His words and speak to them honorable words. In this is a subtle allusion to those who have sinned. When they are present at His court in the future and the Real سبحانه pardons those who were obedient and gives them the rewards for their deeds He will not deprive the poor Muslims among you of the pardon if God wills after their having been among the family of faith ahl al-īmān. Similarly you were not present on the day of the division-you have no prior entitlement. In what you know of [God] He has made you deserving ahhala by His favor in spite of His knowledge of the lapses that will occur in your states.