- This is a compilation of all the verses in Quran that have the word "women" in them. Translation by M. Shakir Please note: These are all verses taken OUT OF CONTEXT from the Quran for _reference purposes_ only. You cannot get a full picture and true view of women in Islam from just reading these verses. To fully understand the issues involved one must look into the contexts, tafsir (commentaries), original lexical arabic, sunnah and hadith (traditions of the prophet saw), ask scholars, etc, which are all integral to understanding these verses. An explanation of the methodology of this and an excellent overview of women in Islam can be found here. 49. And when We delivered you from Firon's people, who subjected you to severe torment, killing your sons and sparing your women, and in this there was a great trial from your Lord. 221. And do not marry the idolatresses until they believe, and certainly a believing maid is better than an idolatress woman, even though she should please you; and do not give (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe, and certainly a believing servant is better than an idolater, even though he should please you; these invite to the fire, and Allah invites to the garden and to forgiveness by His will, and makes clear His communications to men, that they may be mindful. 222. And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves. 228. And the divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three courses; and it is not lawful for them that they should conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the last day; and their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation; and they have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them, and Allah is Mighty, Wise. 231. And when you divorce women and they reach their prescribed time, then either retain them in good fellowship or set them free with liberality, and do not retain them for injury, so that you exceed the limits, and whoever does this, he indeed is unjust to his own soul; and do not take Allah's communications for a mockery, and remember the favor of Allah upon you, and that which He has revealed to you of the Book and the Wisdom, admonishing you thereby; and be careful (of your duty to) Allah, and know that Allah is the Knower of all things. 232. And when you have divorced women and they have ended-- their term (of waiting), then do not prevent them from marrying their husbands when they agree among themselves in a lawful manner; with this is admonished he among you who believes in Allah and the last day, this is more profitable and purer for you; and Allah knows while you do not know. 235. And there is no blame on you respecting that which you speak indirectly in the asking of (such) women in marriage or keep (the proposal) concealed within your minds; Allah knows that you win mention them, but do not give them a promise in secret unless you speak in a lawful manner, and do not confirm the marriage tie until the writing is fulfilled, and know that Allah knows what is in your minds, therefore beware of Him, and know that Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing. 236. There is no blame on you if you divorce women when you have not touched them or appointed for them a portion, and make provision for them, the wealthy according to his means and the straitened in circumstances according to his means, a provision according to usage; (this is) a duty on the doers of good (to others). 241. And for the divorced women (too) provision (must be made) according to usage; (this is) a duty on those who guard (against evil). 282. O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things. From 003.TheFamilyofImran: 14. The love of desires, of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well bred horses and cattle and tilth, is made to seem fair to men; this is the provision of the life of this world; and Allah is He with Whom is the good goal (of life). 41. He said: My Lord! appoint a sign for me. Said He: Your sign is that you should not speak to men for three days except by signs; and remember your Lord much and glorify Him in the evening and the morning. f42. And when the angels said: O Marium! surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of of the world. 61. But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars. From 004.Women: O people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two, many men and women; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you. And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course. And give women their dowries as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result. Men shall have a portion of what the parents and the near relatives leave, and women shall have a portion of what the parents and the near relatives leave, whether there is little or much of it; a stated portion. And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them. O you who believe! it is not lawful for you that you should take women as heritage against (their) will, and do not straiten them m order that you may take part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency, and treat them kindly; then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it. And all married women except those whom your right hands possess (this is) Allah's ordinance to you, and lawful for you are (all women) besides those, provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. Then as to those whom you profit by, give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise. And whoever among you has not within his power ampleness of means to marry free believing women, then (he may marry) of those whom your right hands possess from among your believing maidens; and Allah knows best your faith: you are (sprung) the one from the other; so marry them with the permission of their masters, and give them their dowries justly, they being chaste, not fornicating, nor receiving paramours; and when they are taken in marriage, then if they are guilty of indecency, they shall suffer half the punishment which is (inflicted) upon free women. This is for him among you who fears falling into evil; and that you abstain is better for you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And do not covet that by which Allah has made some of you excel others; men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall have the benefit of what they earn; and ask Allah of His grace; surely Allah knows all things. Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great. O you who believe! do not go near prayer when you are Intoxicated until you know (well) what you say, nor when you are under an obligation to perform a bath-- unless (you are) travelling on the road-- until you have washed yourselves; and if you are sick, or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth, then wipe your faces and your hands; surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper. And they ask you a decision about women. Say: Allah makes known to you His decision concerning them, and that which is recited to you in the Book concerning female orphans whom you do not give what is appointed for them while you desire to marry them, and concerning the weak among children, and that you should deal towards orphans with equity; and whatever good you do, Allah surely knows it. They ask you for a decision of the law. Say: Allah gives you a decision concerning the person who has neither parents nor offspring; if a man dies (and) he has no son and he has a sister, she shall have half of what he leaves, and he shall be her heir she has no son; but if there be two (sisters), they shall have two-thirds of what he leaves; and if there are brethren, men and women, then the male shall have the like of the portion of two females; Allah makes clear to you, lest you err; and Allah knows all things. From 005.TheFood: 5. This day (all) the good things are allowed to you; and the food of those who have been given the Book is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them; and the chaste from among the believing women and the chaste from among those who have been given the Book before you (are lawful for you); when you have given them their dowries, taking (them) in marriage, not fornicating nor taking them for paramours in secret; and whoever denies faith, his work indeed is of no account, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers. 6. O you who believe! when you rise up to prayer, wash your faces and your hands as far as the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you are under an obligation to perform a total ablution, then wash (yourselves) and if you are sick or on a journey, or one of you come from the privy, or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands therewith, Allah does not desire to put on you any difficulty, but He wishes to purify you and that He may complete His favor on you, so that you may be grateful. From 007.TheElevatedPlaces: 127. And the chiefs of Firon's people said: Do you leave Musa and his people to make mischief in the land and to forsake you and your gods? He said: We will slay their sons and spare their women, and surely we are masters over them. 141. And when We delivered you from Firon's people who subJected you to severe torment, killing your sons and sparing your women, and in this there was a great trial from your Lord. From 009.Repentance: 67. The hypocritical men and the hypocritical women are all alike; they enjoin evil and forbid good and withhold their hands; they have forsaken Allah, so He has forsaken them; surely the hypocrites are the transgressors. 68. Allah has promised the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women and the unbelievers the fire of hell to abide therein; it is enough for them; and Allah has cursed them and they shall have lasting punishment. 71. And (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Apostle; (as for) these, Allah will show mercy to them; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise. 72. Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode; and best of all is Allah's goodly pleasure; that is the grand achievement. From 012.Yusuf: 28. So when he saw his shirt rent from behind, he said: Surely it is a guile of you women; surely your guile is great: 30. And women in the city said: The chiefs wife seeks her slave to yield himself (to her), surely he has affected her deeply with (his) love; most surely we see her in manifest error. 50. And the king said: Bring him to me. So when the messenger came to him, he said: Go back to your lord and ask him, what is the case of the women who cut their hands; surely my Lord knows their guile. From 014.Ibrahim: 6. And when Musa said to his people: Call to mind Allah's favor to you when He delivered you from Firon's people, who subjected you to severe torment, and slew your sons and spared your women; and in this there was a great trial from your Lord. From 024.TheLight 4. And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty stripes, and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors, 12. Why did not the believing men and the believing women, when you heard it, think well of their own people, and say: This is an evident falsehood? 23. Surely those who accuse chaste believing women, unaware (of the evil), are cursed in this world and the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement. 26. Bad women are for bad men and bad men are for bad women. Good women are for good men and good men are for good women 31. And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known; and turn to Allah all of you, O believers! so that you may be successful. 60. And (as for) women advanced in years who do not hope for a marriage, it is no sin for them if they put off their clothes without displaying their ornaments; and if they restrain themselves it is better for them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. From 027.TheAnt: 55. What! do you indeed approach men lustfully rather than women? Nay, you are a people who act ignorantly. From 028.TheNarrative: 4. Surely Firon exalted himself in the land and made its people into parties, weakening one party from among them; he slaughtered their sons and let their women live; surely he was one of the mischiefmakers. 23. And when he came to the water of Madyan, he found on it a group of men watering, and he found besides them two women keeping back (their flocks). He said: What is the matter with you? They said: We cannot water until the shepherds take away (their sheep) from the water, and our father is a very old man. 25. Then one of the two women came to him walking bashfully. She said: My father invites you that he may give you the reward of your having watered for us. So when he came to him and gave to him the account, he said: Fear not, you are secure from the unjust people. From 003.TheAllies: 32. O wives of the Prophet! you are not like any other of the women; If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a good word. 35. Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember-- Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward. 49. O you who believe! when you marry the believing women, then divorce them before you touch them, you have in their case no term which you should reckon; so make some provision for them and send them forth a goodly sending forth. 52. It is not allowed to you to take women afterwards, nor that you should change them for other wives, though their beauty be pleasing to you, except what your right hand possesses and Allah is Watchful over all things. 55. There is no blame on them in respect of their fathers, nor their brothers, nor their brothers' sons, nor their sisters' sons nor their own women, nor of what their right hands possess; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is a witness of all things. 58. And those who speak evil things of the believing men and the believing women without their having earned (it), they are guilty indeed of a false accusation and a manifest sin. 59. O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. 73. So Allah will chastise the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women and the polytheistic men and the polytheistic women, and Allah will turn (mercifully) to the believing women, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. From 040.TheBeliever: 25. So when he brought to them the truth from Us, they said: Slay the sons of those who believe with him and keep their women alive; and the struggle of the unbelievers will only come to a state of perdition. From 047.Muhammad: 19. So know that there is no god but Allah, and, ask protection for your fault and for the believing men and the believing women; and Allah knows the place of your returning and the place of your abiding. From 048.TheVictory: 5. That He may cause the believing men and the believing women to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein and remove from them their evil; and that is a grand achievement with Allah 6. And (that) He may punish the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the polytheistic men and the polytheistic women, the entertainers of evil thoughts about Allah. On them is the evil turn, and Allah is wroth with them and has cursed them and prepared hell for them, and evil is the resort. 25. It is they who disbelieved and turned you away from the Sacred Mosque and (turned off) the offering withheld from arriving at its destined place; and were it not for the believing men and the believing women, whom, not having known, you might have trodden down, and thus something hateful might have afflicted you on their account without knowledge-- so that Allah may cause to enter into His mercy whomsoever He pleases; had they been widely separated one from another, We would surely have punished those who disbelieved from among them with a painful punishment. From 057.TheIron: 12. On that day you will see the faithful men and the faithful women-- their light running before them and on their right hand-- good news for you today: gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide therein, that is the grand achievement. 13. On the day when the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women will say to those who believe: Wait for us, that we may have light from your light; it shall be said: Turn back and seek a light. Then separation would be brought about between them, with a wall having a door in it; (as for) the inside of it, there shall be mercy in it, and (as for) the outside of it, before it there shall be punishment. 18. Surely (as for) the charitable men and the charitable women and (those who) set apart for Allah a goodly portion, it shall be doubled for them and they shall have a noble reward. From 060.TheExaminedOne: 10. O you who believe! when believing women come to you flying, then examine them; Allah knows best their faith; then if you find them to be believing women, do not send them back to the unbelievers, neither are these (women) lawful for them, nor are those (men) lawful for them, and give them what they have spent; and no blame attaches to you in marrying them when you give them their dowries; and hold not to the ties of marriage of unbelieving women, and ask for what you have spent, and kt them ask for what they have spent. That is Allah's judgment; He judges between you, and Allah is Knowing, Wise. 12. O Prophet! when believing women come to you giving you a pledge that they will not associate aught with Allah, and will not steal, and will not commit fornication, and will not kill their children, and will not bring a calumny which they have forged of themselves, and will not disobey you in what is good, accept their pledge, and ask forgiveness for them from Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. From 065.TheDivorce: O Prophet! when you divorce women, divorce them for~ their prescribed time, and calculate the number of the days prescribed, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their houses, nor should they themselves go forth, unless they commit an open indecency; and these are the limits of Allah, and whoever goes beyond the limits of Allah, he indeed does injustice to his own soul. You do not know that Allah may after that bring about reunion.
- And (as for) those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, if you have a doubt, their prescribed time shall be three months, and of those too who have not had their courses; and (as for) the pregnant women, their prescribed time is that they lay down their burden; and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah He will make easy for him his affair.From 071.Nuh:
28. My Lord! forgive me and my parents and him who enters my house believing, and the believing men and the believing women; and do not increase the unjust in aught but destruction!
10. Surely (as for) those who persecute the believing men and the believing women, then do not repent, they shall have the chastisement of hell, and they shall have the chastisement of burning.
By Dr. Ahmad Shafaat
Of all the Qur'anic passages about men and women perhaps the one most often misunderstood or misused by both Muslims and non-Muslims is verse 34 of Surah an-Nisa. The English translation of this verse reads as follows:
"Men are (meant to be righteous and kind) guardians of women because God has favored some more than others and because they (i.e. men) spend out of their wealth. (In their turn) righteous women are (meant to be) devoted and to guard what God has (willed to be) guarded even though out of sight (of the husband). As for those (women) on whose part you fear ill-will and nasty conduct, admonish them (first), (next) separate them in beds (and last) beat them. But if they obey you, then seek nothing against them. Behold, God is most high and great. (4:34)
The purpose of this article is to give a detailed commentary on the verse in order to make it better understood.
The verse begins with the statement that "men are qawwamun over women". The root of the key word, qawwamun (pl. of qawwam), is qama which means "to stand or to make something stand or to establish something". It is often used in the Holy Qur'an in the sense of establishing religion or prayer. A related word is qa'im which means "one who stands or makes something stand". Qawwam is an intensive form of qa'im and has a sense of continuity in the action involved. So it means one who is continuously standing over something (as, for example, a guard or caretaker) or one who is continuously making something stand, i.e. is maintaining it. In the Qur'anic usage of qawwam and related words there is almost always present an idea of propriety. For example, aqamah of salah is not only praying but also praying properly. The function of qawwam is also understood in the Qur'an to be characterized by fairness. Thus in 4:134 and 5:8, the only other passages in the Qur'an where the word is used, the believers are told:
"O you who believe! Be qawwamin with fairness..."
"O you who believe! Be qawwamin for God as witnesses to fairness..."
Thus to be a qawwam over something or someone is to guard, maintain or take care of that something or someone in a proper and fair manner. If there is any single word in English that can convey the meaning of the word as used in the present word it is probably the one used by Muhammad Pickthal, namely, guardian.
After stating that men are qawwamun over women the verse goes on to say why this is so. Two reasons are given:
1) "Because God has favoured some of them more than others". It is not explicitly stated here who is favoured more than whom but in view of the context it is probable that men are understood in some way to be favoured more than women. But in what way? Again no answer is given in the verse under consideration or elsewhere in the Qur'an. But we can justifiably take the reference to physical strength and energy in which men generally excel women and which enables men to guard women against some of the dangers to which they may be exposed in society and to take care of some of their needs.
From the statement that God has favoured men more than women in some ways we should not conclude, as many careless readers of the Qur'an do, that Islam views men superior to women. For this statement does not exclude the possibility that in some other ways women may be favoured more than men. Indeed observation shows that women are in general more patient, caring and have a more developed intuition than men.
Moreover, the Holy Qur'an makes it clear that while there are many favours of God that He bestows on His creatures in different measures, there is only one favour which determines the superiority of one member of the human species over another and that is taqwa or God consciousness. Thus wealth, strength, health, intelligence, position, education, etc. are all favours of God but we cannot say that a wealthier person is superior to a poorer person, a stronger person is superior is superior to a physically feeble person and so on. we can say only that a more muttaqi person is superior to a less muttaqi person. In the words of the Holy Qur'an:
"The nobler among you in the sight of God is the more muttaqi (righteous) among you." (49:13)
Taqwa (righteousness, God consciousness) is that divine favour of God on which the right use of all other favours of God depends. The more of this quality of taqwa a person has the more the other favours of God benefit him.
Thus the fact that man has been favoured in some ways more than woman does not automatically make him superior to her. It is only when his taqwa is more than hers that he can from the Qur'anic point of view be considered superior to her. And when a person's taqwa increases to a worthwhile level the question of his superiority does not interest him, for he or she realizes that all praises are due to God.
2) The first reason then why men are qawwamun over women is their physical ability to protect women. The second is that "they (i.e. men) spend out of their wealth." Although the Holy Qur'an permits women to earn and own wealth, it expects that men will generally be able to earn more than women because of the natural differences between them. This means that they will generally be responsible for the economic needs of women and this responsibility also makes them qawwamun.
In thinking of men as qawwamun over women we should not limit their role to mere protectors and providers. Properly taking care of women requires more than ensuring their physical security and providing food and shelter. It also requires looking after their psychological and emotional needs which can be summed up in terms of the need for love (30:21). Thus man's role in the relationship between men and women (as husbands and wives) generally consists of three things: protecting the woman, looking after her economic needs and giving her love.
What is the woman's role in this relationship? A brief statement follows about this in the verse:
"The righteous women are devout (qanitat) and guard what Allah has willed to be guarded even though out of sight."
Qanit means one who is devoted to someone and out of love and devotion obeys him or her. Outside of the present verse the word in its various forms, occurs seven times and is used of both men and women. In six out of these seven places, the object of devotion and obedience is understood to be God, in one place it is God and His Messenger. For this reason qanitat may simply mean "devoted to God". In view of the context, the idea of devotion and obedience to the husband may also be read into the word.
Since men are qawwamun over their wives, they must have some authority to make decisions, for a person cannot be an effective guardian or maintainer of someone without having some decision making authority. And whenever there is legitimate decision-making authority on one side, there is some necessity of obedience from the other. In Hadith there are many traditions which encourage women to be obedient to their husbands. Some of these traditions are no doubt forged, being attempts by later Muslims to subjugate their women (1), but others look authentic (2). Thus the Qur'an and Hadith do teach that women should obey their husbands. But this "should" is not a "should" of moral or religious obligation. The Qur'an and authentic ahadith do not command women to be obedient to their husbands, so that it is not a sin on their part if they sometime do not listen to their husbands. The Qur'an and Hadith consider obedience to the husband as simply a desirable quality of the wife.
In connection with the decision-making authority of the husband and the wife's obedience to him, the following further points should also be noted:
i) The "authority" on the husband should not be thought of in terms of the authority of a ruler or a boss. The very personal nature of the relationship between husband and wife and the love and affection which must characterize that relationship (30:21) should be reflected in the way the husband exercises his authority. In particular, he should always fully take into account her feelings on every matter. In Islam, even rulers and bosses are ordered to take into account the views of those in their charge; in case of husbands this is all the more necessary and natural. Likewise, the obedience of the wife to the husband should also reflect the personal and tender nature of their relationship. In particular, it should not be a forced obedience but rather should come naturally out of her love and respect for the husband.ii) If a wife cannot sufficiently love and respect the husband to give him the obedience he expects, then she can, if she so chooses, seek a divorce which will necessarily be granted to her.
iii) The decision-making "authority" of the husband should be restricted to the area of responsibility (i.e. dealings with the society at large, family budget, etc.) and should not become all-pervasive.
iv) The obedience of the wife to the husband, like all obedience in Islam, is only in what is right and proper. The wife can and indeed should disobey any improper, un-Islamic, command of the husband, e.g., if he commands her not to wear hijab.
"Guarding what God has (willed to be) guarded" means guarding the husband's honour and property as well as wife's own loyalty towards him. "Even though out of sight" (li al-ghayb) refers to the husband's honour and property when he is absent as well as to the wife's secret feelings and thoughts which the husband cannot perceive even if he is present. Thus in return for love, security and financial support the husbands should give their wives, righteous wives should give their husbands love, loyalty and obedience and look after their interests with complete faithfulness.
This, however, describes an ideal situation: a strong loving husband taking full care of the wife and the wife giving him her faithful love, obedience and support. In this situation the couple needs no marriage laws. The husband, for example, does not need to be told to take care of the wife, for it comes naturally out of his love for her. Likewise, the wife does not need to be told to obey her husband and to be faithful to him because all this is the natural result of the love and respect she has for him. It is noteworthy that up to this point the Qur'anic verse does not give any commands. It rather uses a descriptive language: "men are qawwamun...", "righteous women are qanitat...". In other words, the verse simply describes the relationship between husband and wife as nature has meant it to be.
Unfortunately, in a great many cases the relationship between husband and wife, because of weaknesses on one or both sides, falls short of the ideal described above. In many cases, the husband and wife successfully make some adjustments between themselves. In many other cases, however, an adjustment becomes difficult. The remaining part of the verse under consideration concerns such cases.
"As for those women on whose part you fear nushuz..." Before we go any further with the translation, it is important to explain the meaning of the key word nushuz. The literal meaning of the word is "rebellion". But rebellion against whom and in what sense? We should certainly not think of this in terms the rebellion of the ruled against a ruler in a sultanate or dictatorship and conclude that it consists of the wife disobeying some of the husband's commands. This is because the same word nushuz is used in case of a husband in verse 128 of the same surah 4, where it is said: "If a woman fears nushuz on her husband's part..." So nushuz is something that can be feared by the husband on the wife's part or by the wife on her husband's part. It cannot therefore be understood in terms of the ruler-ruled relationship. To correctly understand the meaning of the word, it must be noted that both in the verse under consideration and in verse 128 the reference to nushuz is followed by a reference to the break-up of the marriage (see vv. 35, 130). If this context is kept in mind, then it becomes evident that nushuz means the type of behaviour on the part of the husband or the wife which is so disturbing for the other that their living together becomes difficult.
Now the behaviour of a marriage partner can become disturbing for the other in one of the following two ways:
1) There is no ill-will on the part of the offending party. It is simply because of some incompatibility between the two or the failure on the part of one to understand the other that one of them finds some aspect of the other's behaviour disturbing.2) One partner knowingly behaves or continues to behave in a way which seriously disturbs the other partner. In this case there is obviously an ill-will on the part of the first partner towards the second.
Nushuz is only this second type of behaviour, for only a deliberate ill-conduct based on ill-will can be described as "rebellion".
There is also a measure of relativeness about nushuz in the sense that what constitutes nushuz in the eyes of one person may not be so viewed by another. For this reason, the judgment that one's spouse has been guilty of nushuz is partly a subjective and personal one. That is why the verse says: "If you fear nushuz..." instead of for example, "if you find nushuz...". In the Holy Qur'an "fearing" signifies subjective but certain, knowledge or judgment about something.
In short, nushuz is a behaviour on the part of one marriage partner which comes out of ill-will and seriously disturbs the other partner.
Let us now proceed further with the verse and see what does it suggest in case of "those women on whose part you fear nushuz".(3) Three steps are recommended: "Admonish them (first), (next) separate them in beds (and last) beat them."
When there is no ill-will on the part of the wife towards the husband and he finds her behaviour hard to live with, he can, of course, divorce her. But marriage difficulties often start with a stage when neither partner really wants a break-up of the marriage and yet, at least from the point of view of one of the partners, the situation is unacceptable. The three steps suggested in the verse pertain to such circumstances.
"Admonish them". In this step the husband can say a great variety of things to the wife. He can bring to her attention some relevant teachings from the Qur'an and Hadith. He can remind her of the adverse effects of a possible break-up of marriage on all concerned - she herself, the children, if any, and he himself. Such admonition however, will be effective only if the husband has a good character, at least in comparison with the wife. Otherwise, the wife can say to him, either in her heart or aloud, "look who is talking".
The husband must practice what he preaches to his wife, for the Qur'an condemns preaching to others what we do not practice ourselves (2:44).
"Separate them in beds". There is a lot that a husband can achieve by talking to the wife in the right way. But if he fails, he should try separating the wife in bed and take other steps that go with such an action, e.g. avoiding to talk to her. If there had ever been any love between the two, this separation while living together, may help that love to return or come to the forefront. The wife may, as a result, become more willing to change her ways and the husband too may begin to see some of the things in a different light. For this suggestion of separation to work it is clear that the husband should have sufficient control over his sexual urges. For, otherwise he may be driven to end the separation in bed before it had any positive effect on the wife.
"Beat them". If even separation fails to work, then it is suggested that men use beating. To this suggestion of the Holy Qur'an there have been two extreme reactions on the part of some Muslims. The first reaction is being apologetic or ashamed of the suggestion. The second is to use it as a justification for indulging in habitual wife battering. Needless to say that both these reactions are wrong. The Quran as we believe is the word of God and is thus every word in it is full of wisdom and love. To be apologetic about any part of the Quran is to lack both knowledge and faith. As for the second response, the suggestion to use beating is made specifically to deal with nushuz on the part of the wife, that is, to deal with her deliberately nasty behaviour that poses a threat to the marriage. Beating is to be done after due admonition and separation in beds and therefore by husbands who have some moral standards and have sufficient control over their sexual passions. Moreover, this beating is not to go on and on but is to be tried as a last step to save the marriage. Once it is clear that it is not working it is to be abandoned in favour of some other steps involving relatives of the husband and the wife mentioned in the next verse (4:35). There is therefore, absolutely no license here for the type of regular and continual wife beating that goes on in some homes, where each time the husband is angry with his wife or with someone else he turns against her and beats her up. In most such cases, the husband has no moral superiority over the wife: the only rule of Shariah that he cares about is this suggestion about beating. He also does not have the kind of control over his sexual passions needed to separate the wife in bed and often beats her the day before or the day after making love to her, an action specifically condemned by the Prophet. (4)
In regard to the suggestion about beating, the following further points should also be noted:
a) According to some traditions the Prophet said in his famous and well-attended speech on the occasion of his farewell pilgrimage that the beating done according to the present verse should be ghayr mubarrih, i.e. in such a way that it should not cause injury, bruise or serious hurt. On this basis some scholars like Tabari and Razi say even that it should be largely symbolic and should be administered "with a folded scarf" or "with a miswak or some such thing". However, to be effective in its purpose of shaking the wife out of her nasty mood it is important that it should provide an energetic demonstration of the anger, frustration and love of the husband. In other words, it should neither seriously hurt the wife nor reduce it to a set of meaningless motions devoid of emotions.
b) The wife has no religious obligation to take the beating. She can ask for and get divorce any time. The suggestion applies only in the case when the husband is seriously disturbed by a prolonged nasty behaviour on the part of the wife but neither he nor the wife is as yet seriously thinking of breaking up.
c) If the husband beats a wife without respecting the limits set down by the Quran and Hadith, then she can take him to court and if ruled in favor has the right to apply the law of retaliation and beat the husband as he beat her.
d) Some fuqaha (Muslim jurists) are of the opinion that beating is permissible but not advisable. They base their view on the fact that the Prophet intensely disliked the action. But to say that beating is only permissible but never advisable is to say that there is never any good in it but the husband can nevertheless resort to it if he wants to; in other words he can beat up his wife without any good reason. This, however, is a view that cannot possibly be attributed to the Book of God. We can expect the Holy Qur'an to mention beating only if there was some wisdom in that mention. Now there are two possible points of wisdom in the mention. First, the beating done within the limits defined by the Qur'an may indeed bring the husband and wife to some kind of understanding. This is not because of the pain involved, which in any case cannot be too much if the guidance in the Quran and Hadith are to be observed. Rather, the husband and wife may come closer together after beating because of the emotions involved. The wife may experience the depth of hurt and disturbance her nushuz is causing and if there is any love left among them may decide for that reason to change her conduct. It seems from observations of human behaviour know that a show of male physical energy can sometimes bring a woman out of a prolonged bad mood (5) even though this energy may be seemingly directed against her in the form of angry words or a slap, provided in this manifestation of energy there is an undercurrent of love and desire for the woman and no real harm is done to the woman. In the situation with which the present verse is dealing, it is understood that in his heart the husband does have some love and desire for the wife. For, he has the option of divorcing her but he is not taking that option. Of course, there are husbands who neither love their wives nor divorce them, but keep them to punish them or exploit them. But we are not dealing with this situation here, since the assumption is that ill-will (nushuz) is from the wife's side. As for the argument that the Prophet intensely disliked beating, we can say that his intense dislike was for the type of beating done outside the limits set down by God. Second, the mention of beating may have the wisdom, ironically, to protect wives against what is called wife battering. The Quran does not always combat undesirable behavior by legal prohibition but by some other means. Experience also shows that legal prohibition of an action may not always be the most effective method to stop it. The Quran by requiring that before any beating there should be admonishing and separation of beds is providing a more effective measure against wife battering, since battering is the result of uncontrollable anger or aggression and this anger or aggression can be tamed during admonishing and separation of beds. No statistics exist, but I feel confident that if we research the behavior of men in different religious groups over a long enough period and a vast enough area of the globe, we will find that the incidents of cases of wife battering and other forms of cruelty to women have been less, both in terms of numbers and seriousness, among Muslims than in other groups.
"But if they obey you, then seek nothing against them". Here obey means that the wife accepts the husband's fair and justified demands or expectations. "Seek nothing against them" means that after the wife has abandoned nushuz and returned to the decent way one partner in marriage should behave towards the other, the husband should forgive and forget the past and start a new page.
"Behold, God is most high and great". These words are meant for both the husband and the wife. Above them both is God in whose name they were joined in marriage. The husband should not forget that the greater physical strength and the superior earning power which give him a certain advantage in marriage comes from God. He should not, therefore, try to push this advantage to unjustified limits. In particular, he should not expect to be the lord and master of the wife.
At the same time the wife should realize that her nasty behaviour is causing a lot of unhappiness to all the family, to herself, to the husband and to the children and other close relatives. She cannot do this to the near ones without displeasing God and without paying for it in some way.
(1) To the category of forged traditions encouraging women to be obedient to their husbands may safely be relegated the hadith in which the Prophet is reported to have said: "If I were to order anyone to prostrate himself before another, I would order a woman to prostrate herself before her husband" (Tirmidhi, Ahmad). This hadith stands in marked contrast to the whole of the Qur'an and most other ahadith. To be sure the Qur'an and Hadith recognize that in the marriage relationship men have greater responsibilities and therefore also a degree of greater rights, but they do not see this degree in terms that can translate into the kind of subservience of women to their husbands implied in this particular hadith. In fact, masters have greater rights over their slaves than husbands over their wives, as also parents (especially mothers) over their children and yet the Qur'an and Hadith nowhere say that masters or parents are like majazi (figurative, metaphorical) Gods for their slaves or children. How then can husbands be majazi Gods for their wives?
(2) A hadith which talks about the obedience of the husband by the wife and against whose authenticity there seems to be no strong arguments is quoted by Nasa'i and Bayhaqi on the authority of Abu Hurayra. It reads:
"The best wife is the one who pleases (her husband) when he looks at her, obeys him when he gives a command, and does not go against his wishes regarding her person or property by doing anything of which he disapproves."
Notice that this hadith is consistent with the Qur'an in that it does not command women to be obedient to their husbands but simply considers such obedience a desirable quality of a wife.
(3) When a husband dislikes something about the wife without the wife having any nushuz or ill-will towards him, he should continue the marriage relationship in a maruf way as far as possible, remembering that
"if you dislike them (i.e. your wives), it may be that you dislike something and God brings about through it a great deal of good." (4:19)
(4) The Prophet said: "(How odd it is that) one of you should whip his wife as a slave is whipped and then sleep with her at the end of the day". (Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of 'Abdallah bin Zam'a)
(5) In movies, for example, one often sees the following type of scene: a man and a woman love each other but in some matter the woman simply does not want to listen to the man even though she realizes deep down that he is thinking for the good of both of them. The man tries all the tender ways to bring the woman around to his point of view without any success. Frustrated, the man at last bursts into anger and gives the woman a slap. This shakes the woman out of her mood and she falls on his shoulders, with both happier than before. Of course, movies are no guide for us but sometimes they do represent human nature and life as it is. http://www.themodernreligion.com/women/dv-4-34-shafaat.html