The Quran

Commentaries for 4.9

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.9 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And let those) who visit a sick person and enjoin him to bequeath more than a third of his inheritance (fear (in their behaviour toward orphans)) the ruin of the children of this sick person after he dies (who if they left behind them) after they die (weak offspring) unable to fend for themselves (would be afraid for them) to face ruin. Just as they would fear ruin for their own children, they ought to fear ruin for the children of any deceased person; it is also said that this means: enjoin the person who is on his deathbed that which you would enjoin yourself; and fear for the loss of his children if he were to die, as you would fear for the loss of your own children if you were to die. This is because they were in the habit of visiting people who were on their deathbeds and enjoining them to give their property to this and that person until nothing was left for their own children, so Allah prohibited them from so doing. Then Allah said: (So let them mind their duty to Allah) let them fear Allah regarding the bequeathing of more than a third of the inheritance to those who are not entitled to inheritance, (and speak) to the person who is sick [expecting to die] (justly) about his will.
4.9 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And let them fear, let them be concerned for the orphans, those who, if they, are about to, leave behind them, that is, after their death, weak offspring, young children, would be afraid for them; that they be ruined; let them fear God, in the matter concerning orphans, and let them give what they would love for their own offspring after their death; and speak, to the one approached by death, pertinent words, the right [words], by enjoining him to give as voluntary almsgiving no more than the third [of the inheritance], and leave the remainder for the ones inheriting, so that they do not end up as dependants.
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.)
4.9-10 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
According to a Tradition this verses were revealed in response to the request of the widow of Hadrat Sa'd bin Rubai'. She came to the Holy Prophet with her two daughters and said, "O Messenger of Allah, here are the daughters of Sa'd who has been martyred in the battle of Uhd. Their uncle has taken possession of the whole of his property and has not left a single penny for them. Now who is going to marry them after this?
4.9 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And let them fear those who if they leave behind them weak offspring would be afraid for them; let them fear God and speak pertinent words. He explained in this verse that what the Muslim should accumulate for his dependents is not wealth but fear of God taqwā and righteousness ṣalāḥ for He did not say “so let them gather their wealth let them multiply real estate for them and let them leave behind household goods.” Rather He said let them fear God for He looks after the righteous.