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price; these shall have their reward with their LORD; for GOD is swift in taking an account. O true believers, be patient, and strive to excel in patience, and be constant-minded, and fear GOD, that ye may be happy.




O MEN, fear your LORD, who hath created you out of one man, and out of him created his wife, and from them two hath multiplied many men and women:* and fear GOD by whom ye beseech one another; and respect women who have borne you, for GOD is watching over you. And give the orphans when they come to age their substance; and render them not in exchange bad for good:" and devour not their substance, by adding it to your own substance; for this is a great sin. And if ye fear that ye shall not act with equity towards orphans of the female sex,* take in marriage of such other women as please you, two, or three, or four, and not more.t

displeased, and wondered that he should pray for a Christian proselyte whom he had never seen.*

See before, p. 24, and the Preliminary Discourse, sect. iv.

P This title was given to this chapter, because it chiefly treats of matters relating to women; as, marriages, divorces, dower, prohibited degrees, &c.

"Mortals! fear the Lord, who created you all from one man, of whom he formed a woman, and who has covered the earth with their posterity. Fear the Lord, in the name of whom ye beseech each other. Revere the ties of consanguinity. God observeth your actions."-Savary.

Saying, I beseech thee for God's sake."

Literally, the wombs.

That is, take not what ye find of value among their effects to your own use, and give them worse in its stead.

"If ye fear to be unjust unto orphans, fear also to be unjust unto your wives. Marry only two, three, or four."

The commentators understand this passage differently. The true meaning seems to be, as it is here translated: Mohammed advising his followers that if they found they should wrong the female orphans under their care, either by marrying them against their inclinations, for the sake of their riches or beauty, or by not using or maintaining them so well as they ought, by reason of their having already several wives, they should rather choose to marry other women, to avoid all occasion of sin. Others say that, when this passage was revealed, many of the Arabians, fearing trouble and temptation, refused to take upon them the charge of orphans, and yet multiplied wives to a great excess, and used them ill; or, as others write, gave themselves up to fornication; which occasioned the passage. And according to these its meaning must be either, that if they feared they could not act justly towards orphans, they had as great reason to apprehend they could not deal equitably with so many wives, and therefore are commanded to marry but a certain number; or else, that since fornication was a crime as well as a wronging of orphans, they ought to avoid that also, by marrying according to their abilities.8

Al Beidâwi. Idem.

"When this verse was sent down from heaven, the greatest part of the Arabs had each of them eight or ten wives; and they often treated them badly. Polygamy has always been established in the east. Mahomet restrained it within narrower bounds."-Savary.

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But if ye fear that ye cannot act equitably towards so many, marry one only, or the slaves which ye shall have acquired." This will be easier, that ye swerve not from righteousness. And give women their dowry freely; but if they voluntarily remit unto you any part of it, enjoy it with satisfaction and advantage. And give not unto those who are weak of understanding the substance which God hath appointed you to preserve for them; but maintain them thereout, and clothe them, and speak kindly unto them. And examine the orphans until they attain the age of marriage: but if ye perceive they are able to manage their affairs well, deliver their substance unto them; and waste it not extravagantly, or hastily,* because they grow up. Let him who is rich abstain entirely from the orphans' estates; and let him who is poor take thereof according to what shall be reasonable. And when ye deliver their substance unto them, call witnesses thereof in their presence: GOD taketh sufficient account of your actions. Men ought to have a part of what their parents and kindred leave behind them when they die: and women also ought to have a part of what their parents and kindred leave, whether it be little, or whether it be much; a determinate part is due to them. And when they who are of kin are present at the dividing of what is left, and also the orphans, and the poor; distribute unto them some part thereof; and if the estate be too small, at least speak comfortably unto them. And let those fear to abuse orphans, who if they leave behind them a weak offspring, are solicitous for them: let them therefore fear GOD, and speak that which is convenient. Surely they who devour the possessions of orphans unjustly shall swallow down nothing but fire into their bellies, and shall broil in raging flames. GOD hath thus commanded you concerning your children. A male shall have as much as the share of two females;d but if they be females only and above two in number, they shall have two-third parts of what the deceased shall leave; and if there be but

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For slaves requiring not so large a dower, nor so good and plentiful a maintenance as free women, a man might keep several of the former, as easily as one of the latter.

i. e. Try whether they be well-grounded in the principles of religion, and have sufficient prudence for the management of their affairs. Under this expression is also comprehended the duty of a curator's instructing his pupils in those respects. ▾ Or age of maturity, which is generally reckoned to be fifteen; a decision supported by a tradition of their prophet; though Abu Hanifah thinks eighteen the proper age.9

Beware of dissipating it by prodigality, or by hastening to entrust them with it, when they are too young."-Savary.

i. e. Because they will shortly be of age, to receive what belongs to them. That is, no more than what shall make sufficient recompense for the trouble of their education.1

b This law was given to abolish a custom of the pagan Arabs, who suffered not women or children to have any part of their husband's or father's inheritance; on pretence that they only should inherit who were able to go to war.1

viz. Either to comfort the children, or to assure the dying father they shall be justly dealt by.

This is the general rule to be followed in the distribution of the estate of the deceased, as may be observed in the following cases.

• Or if there be two and no more, they will have the same share.


Al Beidâwi. Idem. Idem. Vide Prelim. Disc. sect. vi.

one, she shall have the half. And the parents of the deceased shall have each of them a sixth part of what he shall leave, if he have a child; but if he have no child, and his parents be his heirs, then his mother shall have the third part. And if he have brethren, his mother shall have a sixth part, after the legacies which he shall bequeath, and his debts be paid. Ye know not whether your parents or your children be of greater use unto you. This is an ordinance from GOD, and GOD is knowing and wise. Moreover ye may claim half of what your wives shall leave, if they have no issue; but if they have issue, then ye shall have the fourth part of what they shall leave, after the legacies which they shall bequeath, and the debts be paid. They also shall have the fourth part of what ye shall leave, in case ye have no issue; but if ye have issue, then they shall have the eighth part of what ye shall leave, after the legacies which ye shall bequeath, and your debts be paid. And if a man or woman's substance be inherited by a distant relation, and he or she have a brother or sister; each of them two shall have a sixth part of the estate. But if there be more than this number, they shall be equal sharers in a third part, after payment of the legacies which shall be bequeathed, and the debts, without prejudice to the heirs. This is an ordinance from GOD: and GOD is knowing and gracious. These are the statutes of GOD. And whoso obeyeth GOD and his apostle, God shall lead him into gardens wherein rivers flow, they shall continue therein for ever; and this shall be great happiness. But whoso disobeyeth GOD and his apostle, and transgresseth his statutes, God shall cast him into hell fire; he shall remain therein for ever, and he shall suffer a shameful punishment. If any of your women be guilty of whoredom,1 produce four witnesses from among you against them, and if they bear witness against them, imprison them in separate apartments until death release them, or GOD affordeth them a way to escape. And if two


And the remaining third part, or the remaining moiety of the estate, which is not here expressly disposed of, if the deceased leaves behind him no son, nor a father, goes to the public treasury. It must be observed, that Mr. Selden is certainly mistaken, when, in explaining this passage of the Korân, he says, that where there is a son and an only daughter, each of them will have a moiety: for the daughter can have a moiety but in one case only, that is, where there is no son; for if there be a son, she can have but a third, according to the above-mentioned rule.

And his father consequently the other two-thirds.5

By legacies in this and the following passages are chiefly meant those bequeathed to pious uses; for the Mohammedans approve not of a person's giving away his substance from his family and near relations on any other account.

For this may happen by contract, or on some other special occasion.

*Here, and in the next case, the brother and sister are made equal sharers, which is an exception to the general rule, of giving a male twice as much as a female; and the reason is said to be, because of the smallness of the portions, which deserve not such exactness of distribution; for in other cases the rule holds between brother and sister, as well as other relations."

Either adultery or fornication.

Their punishment in the beginning of Mohammedism was to be immured till they died, but afterwards this cruel doom was mitigated, and they might avoid it

'Selden, de Success. ad Leges Ebræor. lib. 1. chap. i. • Al Beidâwi. See this chap. near the end.

of you commit the like wickedness," punish them both: but if they repent and amend, let them both alone; for GOD is easy to be reconciled and merciful. Verily repentance will be accepted with GOD from those who do evil ignorantly, and then repent speedily; unto them will GOD be turned: for GOD is knowing and wise. But no repentance shall be accepted from those who do evil until the time when death presenteth itself unto one of them, and he saith, Verily I repent now; nor unto those who die unbelievers; for them have we prepared a grievous punishment. O true believers, it is not lawful for you to be heirs of women against their will, nor to hinder them from marrying others, that ye may take away part of what ye have given them in dowry; unless they have been guilty of a manifest crime: but converse kindly with them. And if ye hate them it may happen that ye may hate a thing wherein GOD hath placed much good. If ye be desirous to exchange a wife for another wife, and ye have already given one of them a talent: take not away any thing therefrom :" will ye take it by slandering her, and doing her manifest injustice? And how can ye take it, since the one of you hath gone in unto the other, and they have received from you a firm covenant? Marry not women whom your fathers have had to wife; (except what is already past :) for this is uncleanness, and an abomination, and an evil way. Ye are forbidden to marry your mothers, and your daughters, and your sisters, and your aunts both on the

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by undergoing the punishment ordained in its stead by the Sonna; according to which the maidens are to be scourged with a hundred stripes, and to be banished for a full year; and the married women to be stoned."

The commentators are not agreed whether the text speaks of fornication or sodomy. Al Zamakhshari, and from him, al Beidâwi supposes the former is here meant but Jallalo'ddin is of opinion that the crime intended in this passage must be committed between two men, and not between a man and a woman; not only because the pronouns are in the masculine gender, but because both are ordered to suffer the same slight punishment, and are both allowed the same repentance and indulgence; and especially for that a different and much severer punishment is appointed for the women in the preceding words. Abu'l Kasem Hebatallah takes simple fornication to be the crime intended, and that this passage is abrogated by that of the 24th chapter, where the man and the woman who shall be guilty of fornication are ordered to be scourged with a hundred stripes each.



• The original is, Do them some hurt or damage; by which some understand that they are only to reproach them in public, or strike them on the head with their slippers, (a great indignity in the east ;) though some imagine they may be scourged.1

P It was customary among the pagan Arabs, when a man died, for one of his relations to claim a right to his widow, which he asserted by throwing his garment over her: and then he either married her himself, if he thought fit, on assigning her the same dower that her former husband had done, or kept her dower and married her to another, or else refused to let her marry unless she redeemed herself by quitting what she might claim of her husband's goods. This unjust custom is abolished by this passage.

Some say these words are directed to husbands who used to imprison their wives without any just cause, and out of covetousness, merely to make them relinquish their dower or their inheritance.

Such as disobedience, ill-behaviour, immodesty, and the like.*
That is, by divorcing one, and marrying another,

ti. e. Ever so large a dower.

See chap. 2, p. 27, 28.

Jallalo'ddin. Ibid. Yahya, Abu'l Kâsem Hebatallah, Al Beidâwi. Jallalo'ddin, * Idem.

Al Beidâwi.

1 Al Beidâwi. 2 Idem. • Idem

father's and on the mother's side, and your brother's daughters, and your sister's daughters, and your mothers who have given you suck, and your foster-sisters, and your wives' mothers, and your daughters-in-law which are under your tuition, born of your wives unto whom ye have gone in, (but if ye have not gone in unto them, it shall be no sin in you to marry them,) and the wives of your sons who proceed out of your loins; and ye are also forbidden to take to wife two sisters, except what is already passed: for GOD is gracious and merciful. *[V.] Ye are also forbidden to take to wife free women who are married, except those women whom your right hands shall possess as slaves. This is ordained you from GOD. Whatever is beside this, is allowed you; that ye may with your substance provide wives for yourselves, acting that which is right, and avoiding whoredom. And for the advantage which ye receive from them, give them their reward,* according to what is ordained: but it shall be no crime in you to make any other agreement among yourselves, after the ordinance shall be com plied with; for GOD is knowing and wise. Whoso among you hath not means sufficient that he may marry free women, who are believers, let him marry with such of your maid-servants whom your right hands possess, as are true believers; for GOD well knoweth your faith. Ye are the one from the other: therefore marry them with the consent of their masters; and give them their dower according to justice; such as are modest, not guilty of whoredom, nor entertaining lovers. And when they are married, if they be guilty of adultery, they shall suffer half the punishment which is appointed for the free women. This is allowed unto him among you, who feareth to sin by marrying free women; but if ye abstain from marrying slaves it will be better for you; GOD is gracious and merciful. GOD is willing to declare these things unto you, and to direct you according to the ordinances of those who have gone before you,d and to be merciful unto you. God is knowing and wise. GOD desireth to be gracious unto you; but they who follow their lusts, desire that ye should turn aside from the


The same was also prohibited by the Levitical law.

According to this passage it is not lawful to marry a free woman that is already married, be she a Mohammedan or not, unless she be legally parted from her husband by divorce; but it is lawful to marry those who are slaves, or taken in war, after they shall have gone through the proper purifications, though their husbands be living. Yet, according to the decision of Abu Hanifah, it is not lawful to marry such whose husbands shall be taken, or in actual slavery with them.

That is, assign them their dower.

That is, either to increase the dower, or to abate some part or even the whole of it.

↳ Being alike descended from Adam, and of the same faith:7

• The reason of this is because they are not presumed to have had so good education. A slave, therefore, in such a case, is to have fifty stripes, and to be banished for half a year; but she shall not be stoned, because it is a punishment which cannot be inflicted by halves.8

viz. Of the prophets, and other holy and prudent men of former ages.9

Some commentators suppose that these words have a particular regard to the Magians, who formerly were frequently guilty of incestuous marriages, their prophet Zerdusht having allowed them to take their mothers and sisters to wife; and also to the Jews, who likewise might marry within some of the degrees here prohibited.1

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