God has not made for any man two hearts in his inside; nor has He made your wives,whom you back away from,your real mother2; nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is what ye speak with your mouths; but God speaks the truth and He guides to the path!
Call them by their fathers names; that is more just in Gods sight; but if ye know not their fathers, then they are your brothers in religion and your clients. There is no crime against you for what mistakes ye make therein; but what your hearts do purposelybut God is ever forgiving and merciful.
The prophet is nearer of kin to the believers than themselves, and his wives are their mothers. And blood relations are nearer in kin to each other by the Book of God than the believers and those who fled3; only your doing kindness to your kindred, that is traced in the Book.
And when we took of the prophets their compact,4 from thee and from Noah, and Abraham, and Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary, and took of them a rigid compact, that He might ask the truth-tellers of their truth. But He has prepared for those who misbelieve a grievous woe.
And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts was sickness said, God and His Apostle have only promised us deceitfully. And when a party of them said, O people of Yathreb7; there is no place for you (here),8 return then (to the city). And a part of them asked leave of the prophet (to return), saying, Verily, our houses are defenceless; but they were not defenceless, they only wished for flight.
Say, God knows the hinderers amongst you, and those who say to their brethren, Come along unto us, and show but little valour;covetous towards you.10 When fear comes thou wilt see them looking towards thee, their eyes rolling like one fainting with death; but when the fear has passed away they will assail you with sharp tongues, covetous of the best.11 These have never believed, and God will make vain their works, for that is easy with God.
They reckoned that the confederates would never go away; and if the confederates should come they would fain be in the desert with the Arabs, asking for news of you! and if they were amongst you they would fight but little.
And He drove down those of the people of the Book who had helped them14 from their fortresses15 and hurled dread into their hearts; a part ye slew and ye took captive a part: and He gave you their land, and their dwellings, and their property for an inheritance, and a land ye had not trodden, for God is ever mighty over all.
O thou prophet! say to thy wives, If ye be desirous of the life of this world and its adornments, come, I will give you them to enjoy and I will let you range handsomely at large! But if ye be desirous of God and His Apostle and of the abode of the hereafter, verily, God has prepared for those of you who do good a mighty hire!16
And stay still in your houses and show not yourselves with the ostentation of the ignorance of yore; and be steadfast in prayer, and give alms, and obey God and His Apostle;God only wishes to take away from you17 the horror as people of His House and to purify you thoroughly.
Verily, men resigned and women resigned,18 and believing men and believing women, and devout men and devout women, and truthful men and truthful women, and patient men and patient women, and humble men and humble women, and almsgiving men and almsgiving women, and fasting men and fasting women, and men who guard their private parts and women who guard their private parts, and men who remember God much, and women who remember Him,God has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty hire.
It is not for a believing man or for a believing woman, when God and His Apostle have decided an affair, to have the choice in that affair; and whoso rebels against God and His Apostle has erred with obvious error.
And when thou didst say to him God had shown favour to and thou hadst shown favour to, Keep thy wife to thyself and fear God; and thou didst conceal in thy soul what God was about to display; and didst fear men, though God is more deserving that thou shouldst fear Him; and when Zâid had fulfilled his desire to her19 we did wed thee to her that there should be no hindrance to the believers in the matter of the wives of their adopted sons when they have fulfilled their desire of them: and so Gods bidding to be done.20
There is no hindrance to the prophet about what God has ordained for him;(such was) the course of God with those who have passed away before,and Gods bidding is a decreed decree! Those who preach Gods messages and fear Him and fear not any one except God,but God is good enough at reckoning up.
Give glad tidings then to the believers, that for them is great grace from God. And follow not the unbelievers and the hypocrites; but let alone their ill-treatment,22 and rely upon God, for God is guardian enough.
O ye who believe! when ye wed believing women, and then divorce them before ye have touched them, ye have no term that ye need observe; so make them some provision, and let them go handsomely at large.
O thou prophet! verily, we make lawful for thee thy wives to whom thou hast given their hire,23 and what thy right hand possesses24 out of the booty that God has granted thee, and the daughters of thy paternal uncle and the daughters of thy paternal aunts, and the daughters of thy maternal uncle and the daughters of thy maternal aunts, provided they have fled with thee, and any believing woman if she give herself to the prophet, if the prophet desire to marry her;a special privilege this for thee, above the other believers.
Put off25 whomsoever thou wilt of them and take to thyself whomsoever thou wilt, or whomsoever thou cravest of those whom thou hast deposed,26 and it shall be no crime against thee. That is nigher to cheering their eyes and that they should not grieve, and should be satisfied with what thou dost bring them all; but God knows best what is in their hearts; and God is knowing, clement.
It is not lawful to thee to take women after (this), nor to change them for (other) wives, even though their beauty please thee; except what thy right hand possesses, for God is ever watchful over all.
O ye who believe! do not enter the houses of the prophet, unless leave be given you, for a meal,not watching till it is cooked! But when ye are invited, then enter; and when ye have fed, disperse, not engaging in familiar discourse. Verily, that would annoy the prophet and he would be ashamed for your sake,27 but God is not ashamed of the truth.28
And when ye ask them29 for an article, ask them from behind a curtain30; that is purer for your hearts and for theirs. It is not right for you to annoy the prophet of God, nor to wed his wives after him ever; verily, that is with God a serious thing.
If ye display a thing or conceal it, verily, God all things doth know. There is no crime against them31 (if they speak unveiled) to their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their brothers sons, or their sisters sons, or their women, or what their right hands possess; but let them fear God,verily, God is witness over all.
O thou prophet! tell thy wives and thy daughters, and the women of the believers, to let down over them their outer wrappers; that is nearer for them to be known and that they should not be annoyed; but God is forgiving, merciful.
Surely if the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a sickness and the insurrectionists in Medînah do not desist, we will surely incite thee against them. Then they shall not dwell near thee therein save for a little while. Cursed wherever they are found,taken and slain with slaughter!
Verily, we offered the trust33 to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, and shrank from it; but man bore it: verily, he is ever unjust and ignorant. That God may torment the hypocritical men and hypocritical women, and the idolators and idolatresses; and that God may turn relenting towards the believing men and believing women; verily, God is ever forgiving, merciful.
Note 1. When this sûrah was written Medînah was besieged by a confederation of the Jewish tribes with the Arabs of Mecca, Negd and Tehâmah, at the instigation of the Jewish tribe of Nadhîr, whom Mohammed had expelled from Mecca the year before. The event took place in the fifth year of the Higrah. [back]
Note 2. The Arabs were in the habit of divorcing their wives on certain occasions with the words, Thy back is to me as my mothers back, after which they considered it as unnatural to approach them as though they were their real mothers. This practice Mohammed here forbids. They used also to consider their adopted children in the same light as real children of their body; in forbidding this practice also, Mohammed legalised his marriage with Zâinab, the divorced wife of his freedman Zăid, who was also his adopted son. [back]
Note 6. On the approach of the confederate army, to the number of 12,000, Mohammed, by the advice of Selmân the Persian, ordered a deep trench to be dug round Medînah, and himself went out to defend it with 3,000 men. The two forces remained for nearly a month in their respective camps, without coming to an actual conflict: until one night a piercing east wind blew so violently, and made such disorder in the camp of the besiegers, that a panic seized upon them, and they retired precipitately. Some of them had been encamped on the heights to the east of the town, the others in the lower part of the valley. [back]
Note 7. The ancient name of the city; it was only called El Medînah, the city, after it had become famous by giving shelter to Mohammed. [back]
Note 15. The Qurâithah Jews, whom Mohammed attacked after the siege of Medînah had been raised, and punished for their treachery in having joined the confederates although in league with him at the time. [back]
Note 16. Mohammed being annoyed by the demands made by his wives for costly dresses and the like, offered them the choice of divorce or of being content with their usual mode of living. They chose the latter. [back]
Note 17. Here the pronoun is changed from feminine to masculine, and the passage is appealed to by the Shiahs as showing the intimate relations that existed between Mohammed and Alî, for they say that by his household are particularly meant Fatimah and Alî. In the next paragraph the feminine is again used. [back]
Note 20. Zâid was Mohammeds freedman and adopted son. Mohammed had seen and admired Zâids wife Zâinab, and her husband at once offered to divorce her: this Mohammed dissuaded him from until the transaction was sanctioned by the verse. The relations of the Arabs to their adopted children were, as has been remarked before, note 2, very strict; and Mohammeds marriage with Zâinab occasioned much scandal among his contemporaries. This passage and those at the commencement of the chapter abrogate all these inconvenient restrictions. Zâid and Abu Laheb are the only two persons of Mohammeds acquaintance who are mentioned in the Qurân by name. [back]
Note 21. The same word is used as is rendered pray in all the other passages in the Qurân, though the commentators interpret it here as meaning bless. So, too, in the formula which is always used after Mohammeds name, zalla llâhu alâihi wa sallam, may God bless and preserve him! is literally, may God pray for him and salute him! [back]
Note 22. Either, do not ill-treat them, or, take no notice of their ill-treating thee. [back]
Note 27. He would be reluctantly obliged to ask you to leave. [back]
Note 28. The tent of an Arab chief is looked upon as a place of general entertainment, and is always besieged by visitors. The advent of a stranger, or indeed any occasion that demands the preparation of food or any form of entertainment, is the signal for every adult male of the encampment to sit around it, and wait for an invitation to partake of the meal. This becomes a very serious tax upon the sheikh, as the laws of Arab hospitality imperatively require every person present to be invited to join in the repast. The translator has often witnessed scenesespecially among the Arabs of Edom and Moabwhich gave a very living significance to these words of the Qurân. Mohammeds exceptionally prominent position exposed him in a peculiar manner to these irruptions of unbidden guests. Another saying bearing upon the point is traditionally ascribed to him, zur ghibban tazdâd hubban, visit seldom and you will get more love. [back]
Note 30. The women to the present day always remain behind a curtain which screens off their part of the tent from the rest, but freely converse with their husband and his guests, and hand over the dishes and any other articles that may be required by the company. [back]
Note 32. The occasion of the revelation of this verse is said to have been that Mohammed being accused of unfairly dividing certain spoils, said, God, have mercy on my brother Moses; he was wronged more than this, and bore it patiently. [back]