Surah an-Nisa' (Women ) 4 : 32

وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا۟ مَا فَضَّلَ ٱللَّهُ بِهِۦ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا ٱكْتَسَبُوا۟ ۖ وَلِلنِّسَآءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا ٱكْتَسَبْنَ ۚ وَسْـَٔلُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ مِن فَضْلِهِۦٓ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيمًا

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And do not wish for that by which Allāh has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allāh of His bounty. Indeed Allāh is ever, of all things, Knowing.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

This verse, together with the one that follows, continue the discussion of the ties and transactions which exist between men and women. They also speak of the covenants of loyalty and their relevance to the system of inheritance that this sūrah discusses earlier.

First, we have a general prohibition against coveting the gifts God has favoured some believers with. This is a general statement that applies to all sorts of favours and privileges, which may include functions, positions, abilities, talents, wealth and other luxuries. A believer should appeal to God and pray to Him to grant him of His grace. He should not waste time feeling sorry for himself nor with all that such an attitude generates of harbouring grudges and greed, of feeling angry, deprived, or unjustly treated. Such feelings may give rise to thinking ill of God and His fair distribution. To harbour such a feeling is disastrous because it substitutes worry and misery for content and self confidence. Entertaining such evil thoughts wastes one’s energy. To turn to God directly and to pray to Him for His grace is to turn to the source of all grace; it can never be exhausted and does not repel anyone. Moreover, it is in God that all hopes are placed and to Him alone that one should turn as one goes about, seeking one’s share of God’s grace.

As has already been said, this is a general directive. The fact that it comes at this point in the sūrah, as well as in a number of reports which speak of the occasion when it was revealed, may indicate that this verse refers specifically to a certain type of favour, namely, the difference in shares of inheritance between men and women. This is an extremely important aspect of the relationship between the two sexes which needs to be established on the solid foundation of mutual acceptance and complementarity, so that contentment prevails in the family and the Muslim society at large. Despite the importance of this aspect, it does not limit the generality of the statement. Authoritative commentaries on the Qur’ān speak of both aspects, giving reports in support of both:
 
Umm Salamah, a wife of the Prophet, once said to him: “Messenger of God, men fight when we do not, and we receive half a share of inheritance.” God subsequently revealed: “Do not covet the bounties God has bestowed more abundantly on some of you than on others.” Another report also quotes Umm Salamah as saying to the Prophet: “Messenger of God, we do not fight so that we may be martyrs, and we do not have an equal share of inheritance”. This verse was then revealed. Later, God revealed the verse in which He says: “I will not suffer the work of any worker among you, male or female, to be lost.” (3:195)
 
Women have not been required to fight in war because they give birth to men who do the fighting. By her physical and psychological constitution, a woman is made to give birth to men and to bring them up so that they can face life and participate in jihād when necessary. In this particular domain, her ability and usefulness is greater than that of man. Every single cell in her body is made physically and psychologically suitable for this purpose. This is not merely a question of physical constitution. It applies to every single cell, from the moment of conception and the decision made by the Creator, praised be He, which determines the sex of that pregnancy. Physical, organic, and psychological factors take secondary importance. She is also more useful when one considers long-term national interests.
 
When men fall dead in war, leaving behind women, the nation is left with productive members who give birth to children in order to compensate for the decrease in their numbers. The same cannot be the case if war were to claim the lives of women and men in equal numbers, or were it to claim the lives of more women than men. Under Islam, a single man using all the concessions and abilities available to him can make four women produce children in order to fill the vacuum left after the slaughter that takes place in war. A thousand men cannot make a single woman produce more children than one man can in order to redress the balance that takes place in society after war. This is only one aspect of the Divine wisdom behind relieving women of the duty of fighting. Other aspects relate to social morality and the nature of society, as well as the need to preserve the essential qualities of both sexes. This is a subject which deserves fuller treatment. As for reward, both men and women are reassured by God. It is sufficient for every human being to do well in fulfilling the tasks assigned to him or her in order to achieve a good position with God.
 
As for inheritance, it may appear at first glance that the general rule which assigns “to the male a share equal to that of two females” favours man. This superficial view, however, will soon disappear to be replaced by a comprehensive treatment of the respective positions of man and woman and their mutually complementary duties. A basic rule in the Islamic system states that “gain is commensurate with duty”. The man pays a dowry to the woman when he marries her, while she pays him no dowry whatsoever. He supports her and their children while she is exempt from such a duty, even when she has money of her own. The least that can happen to a man who is negligent of this duty is that he be imprisoned. A man is required to pay the ransom and compensation for accidental death and injuries caused to others by members of his family, while a woman is exempt from all this.

Let us consider here the right of individual ownership given by Islam to women: “Men shall have a benefit of what they earn and women shall have a benefit of what they earn.” (Verse 32) This right was denied to women by the ignorant society of Arabia as well as by other ignorant societies of the past. Very rarely were women’s right to own acknowledged. Indeed, even when it was acknowledged, ways and means were found to deprive her of that right. The woman herself was considered an object, the ownership of which could be transferred by inheritance, in the same way as other possessions

Islam gives both man and woman an equal status in Front of the law and in all civil rights. This equality applies to married and unmarried women alike. Under Islam, marriage is different from what is practised in most Western countries. A Muslim woman does not lose her name, civil status, and eligibility to make contracts or right of ownership when she gets married. After her marriage, she retains the surname of her own family and continues to enjoy all her rights as before, including the undertaking of any responsibility and entering into any contract, to sell, buy, pledge, make a gift or a will, etc. She also continues to enjoy her right of independent ownership. Under Islam, a married woman is accorded all her civil rights and she may have her own wealth independently from that of her husband, who may not take any part of her money, small or large. God says in the Qur’ān: “If you wish to take one wife in place of another and you have given the first one a large sum of money, do not take away anything of it. Would you take it away though that constitutes a gross injustice and a manifest sin? (Verse 20) How can you take it away when each of you has been privy with the other, and they have received from you a most solemn pledge?” (Verses 20-1) He also says: “It is not lawful for you to take back anything of what you have given them as dowry.” (2: 229) If a husband is forbidden to take anything of what he had originally given to his wife when he married her, then it is even more unlawful for him to take any part of her own property, unless she gives it to him willingly and freely. On this particular point, God states: “Give women their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own accord, choose to give up to you a part of it, then you may take it with pleasure.” (Verse 4) Nor is it lawful for a husband to dispose of any part of his wife’s property unless she permits him to do so or gives him a power of attorney to make a contract on her behalf. When she gives him such a power of attorney, she retains the right to cancel it and to give a similar power of attorney to someone else.

  • فنهى الله تعالى عن التمني لما فيه من دواعي الحسد. والحسد أن يتمنى زوال النعمة عن صاحبه -سواء تمناها لنفسه أم لا- وهو حرام، والغبطة أن يتمنى لنفسه مثل ما لصاحبه؛ وهو جائز. قال الكلبي: لا يتمنى الرجل مال أخيه ولا امرأته ولا خادمه، ولكن ليقل اللهم ارزقني مثلهالبغوي: 1/517.  (Be the first to translate this....)

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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This Surah comprises several discourses which were revealed on different occasions during the period ranging probably between the end of year 3 A.H. and the end of 4 A.H. or the beginning of 5 A.H. Although it is difficult to determine the exact dates of their revelations it is possible to assign to them a fairly correct period with the help of the Commandments and the events mentioned therein. A few instances are given below by way of illustration:

1. We know that the inheritance law for those martyred and protection for the rights of the orphans was sent down after the Battle of Uhud (in which 70 Muslims were martyred). From this we conclude that v. 1 -28 were revealed on that occasion.

2. We learn from the traditions that the ruling regarding the prayer (Salah) during war time was given on the occasion of the Zat-ur-Riqa’aan expedition. This took place in 4 A.H. From this we conclude that the discourse containing v. 102 was revealed on that occasion.

3. The last warning to the Jews was given before the Banu-Nadheer were exiled from Madinah in Rabi’-ulAwwal 4 A.H. It may therefore be assumed that the discourse containing v. 47 was revealed before that date.

4. The permission about performing ablution with dust in the event of no water (tayammum) verse 43, was given during the Bani-al-Mustaliq expedition which took place in 5 A.H. [REF: Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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Let us now consider the social and historical considerations of the period in order to understand the Surah. All the discourses in this Surah deal with three main problems which confronted the Prophet at the time. First of all he was engaged in bringing about an all round development of the islamic Community that had been formed at the time of his migration to Madinah. For this purpose he was introducing new moral cultural social economic and political ways in place of the old ones of the pre-islamic period. The second thing that occupied his attention and efforts was the bitter struggle that was going on with the polytheist Arabs, the Jewish clans and the hypocrites who were opposing tooth and nail his mission of reform. Above all, he had to propagate Islam in the face of the bitter opposition of these powers of evil with a view to capturing more and more minds and hearts.

Accordingly detailed instructions have been given for the consolidation and strengthening of the islamic Community in continuation of those given in Surah 2: Al-Baqarah (The Cow). Principles for the smooth running of family life have been laid down and ways of settling family disputes have been taught. Rules have been prescribed for marriage and rights of wife and husband have been apportioned fairly and equitably. The status of women in the society has been determined and the declaration of the rights of orphans has been made. Laws and regulations have been laid down for the division of inheritance and instructions have been given to reform economic affairs. The foundation of the penal code has been laid down, drinking has been prohibited and instructions have been given for cleanliness and purity. The Muslims have been taught the kind of relations good men should have with their God and fellow men. Instructions have been given for the maintenance of discipline in the Muslim Community.

The moral and religious condition of The People of the Book (Jews and Christians) has been reviewed to teach lessons to the Muslims and to forewarn them to refrain from following in their footsteps. The conduct of the hypocrites has been criticized and the distinctive features of hypocrisy and true faith have been clearly marked off to enable the Muslims to distinguish between the two. In order to cope with the aftermath of the Battle of Uhud, Inspiring discourses were sent down to urge the Muslims to face the enemy bravely, for defeat in the Battle had so emboldened the polytheist Arab clans and the neighbouring Jews and the hypocrites at home, that they were threatening the Muslims on all sides. At this critical juncture God filled the Muslims with courage and gave them such instructions as were needed during that period of war clouds. In order to counteract the fearful rumours that were being spread by the hypocrites and the Muslims of weak faith they were asked to make a thorough enquiry into them and to inform the responsible people about them. Then they were experiencing some difficulties in offering their prayer during the expeditions to some places where no water was available for performing their ablutions etc. In such cases they were allowed to cleanse themselves with pure earth and to shorten the prayer or to offer the “Prayer of Fear” when they were faced with danger. Instructions were also given for the solution of the puzzling problem of those Muslims who were scattered among the unbelieving Arab clans and were often involved in war. They were asked to migrate to Madinah the abode of Islam.

This Surah also deals with the case of Banu nadir who were showing a hostile and menacing attitude in spite of the peace treaties they had made with the Muslims. They were openly siding with the enemies of Islam and hatching plots against the Prophet and the Muslim Community even at Madinah itself. They were taken to task for their inimical behaviour and given a final warning to change their attitude and were at last exiled from Madinah on account of their misconduct.

The problem of the hypocrites, who had become very troublesome at that time, was involving the Believers in difficulties. Therefore, they were divided into different categories to enable the Muslims to deal with them appropriately. Clear instructions were also given regarding the attitude they should adopt towards the non-belligerent clans. The most important thing needed at that time was to prepare the Muslims for the bitter struggle with the opponents of Islam. For this purpose greatest importance was attached to their character building, for it was obvious that the small Muslim Community could only come out successful, nay, survive, if the Muslims possessed high moral character. They were, therefore, enjoined to adopt the highest moral qualities and were severely criticized whenever any moral weakness was detected in them.

Though this Surah mainly deals with the moral and social reforms, yet due attention has been paid to propagation of Islam. On the one hand, the superiority of the islamic morality and culture has been established over that of the Jews, Christians and polytheists; on the other hand, their wrong religious conceptions, their wrong morality and their evil acts have been criticized to prepare the ground for inviting them to the way of the Truth. 

9. Relevant Hadith

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  • Imam Ahmad recorded that Umm Salamah said, "O Messenger of Allah! Men go to battle, but we do not go to battle, and we earn one-half of the inheritance (that men get).'' Allah sent down, وَلاَ تَتَمَنَّوْاْ مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ "And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others"  At-Tirmidhi also recorded this Hadith.

10. Wiki Forum

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11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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