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Offline Hamzeh

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Explanation of Verse 4:4
« on: November 24, 2017, 12:25:47 PM »
Asalamu 3alykum

Dear brother Joseph

This may sound naive but I am failing to understand verse 4:4. What is your opinion on the translations provided below?

Yusuf Ali
4:4 And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer.
Pickthall
And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth).


I am having a difficulty seeing how the term "sadaqatihinna" could mean dowry or free gifts? 

Since a dowry is something that is agreed upon before the complete marriage bond takes place. I do not see why a bride would remit or forego part of her dowry during the marriage agreement, because if she did then that would be the dowry that is agreed upon. What she does with it during the marriage seems to be already taken care of in verse 4:24 by stating that there is no blame on the couple what they do with the dowry by mutual agreement. Unless I am misunderstanding that verse.

If a women chose to remit all her dowry for instance wouldn't that mean that then that is the dowry and something that is agreed upon which would not be considered something she is giving back because she did not take anything to begin with. Which anyways somehow goes against the verse 33:50 where only prophet Muhammad was excused from paying a dowry. So in other words all men have to pay a dowry of some sort, each according to his means(2:236).

Just the way the verse is structured seems to suggest that there is a command to give the women(in general not wives) their wealth possibly related and a connection with verse 4:127 and also an instruction at the same time that there is no blame on the guardian to absorb or take any part of the wealth that the women forgoes or remits by their own accord.

I find that the main theme from verse 4:2 to verse 4:6 seems to provide guidance on how not to be unjust to the orphans and when to give them their wealth which seems to support the argument above and does not deal with marriage.

However because the term "amwalahum" is the term that is generally used to define the orphans wealth/possession makes me think that it is referring to a dowry and I am just not understanding it correctly.

Asalamu 3alykum

Offline Hamzeh

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2017, 04:40:04 PM »
Asalamu 3alykum

If I may just clarify my previous post and start again by going back a bit and asking you what do you think the term "yatama nnisai" (orphan women) in verse 4:127 means or consists of ?

I was trying to make sense of verse 4:127 with the general definition of orphans women(children girls who have no parents) but seems to be some how not possible. It just hit me and I think one cannot read verse 4:127 with the picture of the term orphan women(yatama nnisai) being young orphan girls but rather widows or mature women who have no parents? Do you agree with this?

As I can't imagine the Quran sanctioning that or imagine a man desiring to marry a women while waiting for her to reach the age of marriage. Which I think confused me and lead me to get confused on verse 4:4 which I thought these women were in some orphanage and had a guardian.

This also would explain verse 4:3 as well but another topic.

I hope this makes sense.

Salam


Offline Athman

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2017, 03:31:44 PM »
Salaamun Aleikum Br. Hamzeh,

Albeit the address made to Br. Joseph, I would like to have a kind contribution God willing.


I think I agree with your understanding of verse 4:4 for "sadaqatihinna" not to be referring to "dowry." A close observation would find the Qur'an use the term "ajra" for "dowry," in its appropriate word construct capturing numbers and predicate. (4:24, 4:25, 5:5, 33:50, 60:10)


In my humble opinion, "Sadaqatihinna" on the other hand, from "sadaqa," in "this" context could refer to those "charity dues" those women in context of the verse may have/be received/receiving, that is, eligibly having had fallen to a group amongst the categories stipulated in 9:60.


4:3 provides a proviso to the marriage(s) with the "yatama nnisaai," i.e, that of fear to maintain justice between them. This clearly suggests of "some" prior means to maintain justice, be it probably by way of an "orphanage" (if we are to suggestively assume) or any other decent possible way. In my humble opinion, maintaining justice was possible and verse 4:3 was only reinforcing the idea through its stated alternative, if justice were still to be on the compromise.


It can aptly be followed through the verses that the treatise advanced is that of dealing with orphans and establishing justice amongst the "yatama nnisaai" as you have rightly intimated, the responsibility of handling wealth ("amwaalukum") in situ. I also agree with the gleaning idea you put forward that "yatama nnisaai" is to appropriately and "contextually" be translated as orphaned, widowed/mature women with a view to stay consistent with 4:3 which acknowledges marriage with them (hence not "under(age/maturity)").


However, am also inclined to a no warrant of restricting the interpretation to only that, bearing in mind that 4:5-6 outlines the responsibility of testing the "yatima" for maturity before handing them their due belongings.


With that "yatama nnisaai"issue apart - no marital ties in discussion, on the other hand, I see no problem with receiving a portion of Mahr (dowry) by the one who gave it if an agreement had passed and the due "obligatory" dowry already offered.


"min baadil fariidhwat" in 4:24 clearly captures that which may be mutually agreed upon by the couple "after/beyond that which has been obligatory", obviously from previously agreed upon amount/due.


That which was agreed upon (dowry) has to be given first, then anything beyond/after that agreed upon mutually between the two, can possibly ensue with no blame/error. This would, in my observation, from as many as among possible ideas, not exclude the possibility of the woman remitting part of her dowry (already given) to the man.


I trust Br.Joseph shall clarify further or give a better rendering to those verses in question Insha Allah.

 
Hopefully that helps.

Allah knows best.


Regards,

Athman.

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2017, 04:04:32 AM »
Dear brother Hamzeh,

Wa alaikum assalam

Please kindly find my comments in red to your post below.


Asalamu 3alykum

Dear brother Joseph

This may sound naive but I am failing to understand verse 4:4. What is your opinion on the translations provided below?

Yusuf Ali
4:4 And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer.
Pickthall
And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth).

I am having a difficulty seeing how the term "sadaqatihinna" could mean dowry or free gifts?  The contextual theme is established in the previous verse (4:3) where the term ‘fa-inkihu’ (then marry) is used. Verse 4:4 is a continuation of the previous verse so whatever is being given is arguably, in relation to the marriage. The term is simply not ‘sadaatihinna’ but should be read together as ‘saduqatihinna nihlatan’. The Arabic word ‘nihlatun’ is to make a gift ‘willingly’ – without expecting any return (in the spirit of a sadaqa / charity as supported by context too).

"nuhl, nuhla-t, present, reward; give the morning-gift to a wife, secure her jointure" [1]
"A free gift, especially one given as dowry" [2]

Since a dowry is something that is agreed upon before the complete marriage bond takes place. I do not see why a bride would remit or forego part of her dowry during the marriage agreement, because if she did then that would be the dowry that is agreed upon. One can still agree a marriage portion and it is within the volition / right of the wife to forgo any part of it later. God has empowered the wife to make that decision as she deems fit or necessary. For example, a dowry is set at x. However, the wife (for whatever reason) decides to remit 25% of that and make use of it for a combined purpose or for whatever reason in matters of familial needs. This is her right and has little to do with what was initially agreed. This flexibility, in God’s wisdom may have been granted for whatever change of circumstance that may happen after the dowry was initially set. It is not to be assumed that a marriage agreement and the actual marriage always happens simultaneously or immediately afterwards. A marriage may be agreed in principle but consummated or completed some time afterwards. The husband’s circumstances could also have changed after the dowry was initially agreed and this flexibility has been made allowable as some would argue, to protect the integrity of the marriage bond as and 'if' the ‘wife’ deemed fit without any coercion.

What she does with it during the marriage seems to be already taken care of in verse 4:24 by stating that there is no blame on the couple what they do with the dowry by mutual agreement. This verse can also be interpreted simply as an affirmation of verse 4:4 and not a verse that necessarily is to be read exclusively.
 
Unless I am misunderstanding that verse.

If a women chose to remit all her dowry for instance wouldn't that mean that then that is the dowry and something that is agreed upon which would not be considered something she is giving back because she did not take anything to begin with. As mentioned earlier, something which was agreed upon does not negate the right to rescind any portion of it with mutual agreement, particularly with the agreement of the wife, without duress / coercion. This is solely her right as she deems fit.

Which anyways somehow goes against the verse 33:50 where only prophet Muhammad was excused from paying a dowry. I do not note any excuse for the prophet not to give dowry in lawful marriage in this verse. It clearly states ‘allati atayta ujurahunna’ (to whom you have given their bridal due).

So in other words all men have to pay a dowry of some sort, each according to his means(2:236). That is correct

Just the way the verse is structured seems to suggest that there is a command to give the women(in general not wives) their wealth possibly related and a connection with verse 4:127 and also an instruction at the same time that there is no blame on the guardian to absorb or take any part of the wealth that the women forgoes or remits by their own accord.

I find that the main theme from verse 4:2 to verse 4:6 seems to provide guidance on how not to be unjust to the orphans and when to give them their wealth which seems to support the argument above and does not deal with marriage. Verse 4:3 is also clearly setting the context of marriage with the term ‘inkihu’ which as I trust you will appreciate is inescapable.

However because the term "amwalahum" is the term that is generally used to define the orphans wealth/possession makes me think that it is referring to a dowry and I am just not understanding it correctly. With respect, I agree with this general sentiment

Asalamu 3alykum


One of the most salient requirements of reading any ancient script, particularly the Quran is not to impose on the text what we would or would not deem to imagine to be correct or appropriate for a particular context. This way, we will inevitably end up limiting (at best) or misconstruing (at worst) the Quran's intended textual interpretation and wrought it to simply accord with our world-views. On the other hand, we should attempt to read the passage as it is and then formulate our views according to the text.

I know you are already a very seasoned Quran student Masha'Allah, so I trust that this sentiment is already something you appreciate and apply in your general approach.

I hope this clarifies / assists God willing.

Regards,
Joseph




REFERENCES:

[1] STEINGASS, F, The Student's Arabic-English Dictionary 1884, Printed by W.H. Allen and Co, 13 Waterloo Place, S.W, Page 1106
[2] PENRICE, J, A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran 1873; Reprint 1991 Adam Publishers & Distributors, Delhi, Page 144

'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

Offline Hamzeh

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2017, 11:29:19 AM »
Asalamu 3alykum

Thank you very much brother Joseph for your clarification. Jazak Allah Khair Insha'Allah.

Yes I completely agree and see now how verse 4:3 has set the context of marriage and see how it then progressed. Alhamdulila

Just out of curiosity now after you mentioned this:
Quote
I do not note any excuse for the prophet not to give dowry in lawful marriage in this verse. It clearly states ‘allati atayta ujurahunna’ (to whom you have given their bridal due).

Although I do agree with what you have kindly explained but I was actually referring to this phrase in verse 33:50.
"and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage - a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers"

May I ask you what do you think the privilege was for the prophet over that for the believers as I thought it was referring to dowry?

Quote
One of the most salient requirements of reading any ancient script, particularly the Quran is not to impose on the text what we would or would not deem to imagine to be correct or appropriate for a particular context. This way, we will inevitably end up limiting (at best) or misconstruing (at worst) the Quran's intended textual interpretation and wrought it to simply accord with our world-views. On the other hand, we should attempt to read the passage as it is and then formulate our views according to the text.

I know you are already a very seasoned Quran student Masha'Allah, so I trust that this sentiment is already something you appreciate and apply in your general approach.

I hope this clarifies / assists God willing.

Thank you for your kind words brother and I really do appreciate your reminder. It is truly a blessing Alhamdulila to have a brother like you who helps and shares his efforts. May God bless you. 


Brother Athman, thank you very much as well for your input. Jazak Allah Khair Insha'Allah

I think you had also explained my inquiry very well and I see some of your input was somewhat similar to brother Josephs. I trust we both see the part were I misunderstood and the clarification to it Insha'Allah.  :)

May God bless you brother

Salam

Offline Athman

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2017, 09:11:23 PM »
As salaam Aleikum,

Thanks Br. Joseph for the clarification.

“One of the most salient requirements of reading any ancient script, particularly the Quran is not to impose on the text what we would or would not deem to imagine to be correct or appropriate for a particular context. This way, we will inevitably end up limiting (at best) or misconstruing (at worst) the Quran's intended textual interpretation and wrought it to simply accord with our world-views. On the other hand, we should attempt to read the passage as it is and then formulate our views according to the text.”

This is very true.

Salaam Br. Hamzeh,

 Apart from the wide usage of the term “ajra” for dowry, it’s a good observation made by Br. Joseph that “nihla (gift, present)” (plural-“nihaal”) in 4:4 renders the word “sadaqa” to have a meaning of dowry, in “this” context. I hope you note this Br. Hamzeh, a crucial point I had failed to note.

Regarding the question imparted on 33:50;
“May I ask you what do you think the privilege was for the prophet over that for the believers as I thought it was referring to dowry?”

I think “khaaliswan laka” would best be translated “...only/purely for you,” not "a privilege for thee only," as you respectfully suggest, and the reason for that exclusive offer is given towards the end of the verse as “likaila yakuna ‘alaika haraja,” that is, “...in order that there will be upon you no discomfort...” I am somehow disinclined to interpret it as “privilege,” rather a pre-calculated exception for him to serve some wider purpose as regards the Prophet’s mission.

Regards,

Athman.


Offline Athman

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2017, 11:00:34 PM »
Dear Br. Joseph,

Notwithstanding your respectful contribution above, could there be a possible implicated reason as to why the most commonly used term for dowry, in the various references in the Qur'an as given above, "ajra," in this case "ujuurahunna" was avoided for "sadaqatihinna nihlatan," if at all there could be, that is?


Regards,

Athman.

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2017, 04:51:11 AM »
May I ask you what do you think the privilege was for the prophet over that for the believers as I thought it was referring to dowry?

Dear brother Hamzeh,

As-salamu alaykum

As is the case with all Quranic verses and themes, verse 33:50 should not be read alone. Rather, verses 33:50 to 52 seem to be a block, a context, a continuing theme.

There is clearly an exception noted in verse 33:50 which you have quite correctly / kindly alluded to and a couple of verses later, in verse 33:52, one notes that a clear restriction was placed on the Prophet that he could not marry any more free believing women. There would be some difficulty interpreting verse 33:50 as allowing the prophet to take wives (with or without dowry) and then suddenly curtailing his marriages in the next verse(s).

This is also quite a remarkable exception if one only considers that if this was a false prophet, one would not expect him to be placing such restrictions upon himself whilst allowing the other believers more ‘perceived’ freedoms.

Now as a blocked theme of verses, it appears that the prophet's wives, whether they were first cousins, believing women, or those of the category of 'right hands possess' have been clearly cited by the Quran as being lawful after the dowry was given to them.

There are then 2 exceptions elucidated in the very next verses.

  • That the prophet cannot marry any more free believing women (33:52).
  • That no one can marry his wives after him (33:53).

Therefore in my humble view, it is therefore quite possible that the remit of the prophet's lawful marriages were being confirmed (33:50) and the exception was an inferred reference to the 2 points noted above which were explicitly elucidated in subsequent verses.

The Quran appears to go out of its way to make this exception and mentions the removal of any difficulty / blame from the prophet (33:50), possibly hinting at the enormity 'aziman', if his wives married after him (33:53).

There is no specific mention of a dowry exception which is in my humble view, unnecessarily interpreted by certain commentators. If there were such an exception / exemption intended, one would expect it to be clearly cited as this would arguably be quite remarkable.

However more importantly (and as I trust that you will agree), whatever the nature of the exception for the prophet, this is not applicable to us today for our guiding purposes.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to further clarify as I've noted another thread where this question was raised [1] which I seem to have missed.

I hope this helps, God willing
Joseph


REFERENCE:

[1] What was the privilege the Prophet had over the believers in verse 33:50
http://quransmessage.com/forum/index.php?topic=2229.msg11547#msg11547
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2017, 05:02:39 AM »
Dear Br. Joseph,

Notwithstanding your respectful contribution above, could there be a possible implicated reason as to why the most commonly used term for dowry, in the various references in the Qur'an as given above, "ajra," in this case "ujuurahunna" was avoided for "sadaqatihinna nihlatan," if at all there could be, that is?


Regards,

Athman.


Dear brother Athman,

As-salamu alaykum

'Ajr' (plural - ujur) primarily means a wage or a reward. Something one gets in return for their services. A fee, compensation, recompense or a profit for services. Throughout the Quran, through numerous verses, this is how the term is used.  E.g. 'I ask you no wage / fee for it' (6:90). This carries a particular nuance of 'service rendered' and for which a fee is given.

Even within the familial sphere, the term has been used to clearly indicate wages / fee "If they suckle for you, give them their due / wages / payment (ujurahunna)". (65:6)
 
However, the Quran also broadens the actual purport of what is given to the wife (not merely a fee for any perceived services) in 2 other ways:

  • As something which is more charitable, gift-like and given not as a recompense for service, but more as a sincere largesse. This is captured exquisitely by terms such as 'saduqatihinna nihlatan’ that we noted above (4:4).
  • As an agreed, stipulated, settled portion. In fact, another common word used by the Quran to indicate a dowry or a settled marriage portion is 'faridah'. Please see verses 2:236; 2:237, 4:11 and 4:24.

So as not to restrict the interpretation of the nature of what is offered, the Quran arguably employs different phrases to capture the overarching nuance of what is given to the wife. A charitable, sincere gift (saduqatihinna nihlatan) that is ordained / agreed (faridah) and presented to her as her due (ajr).

I trust that this clarifies, God willing

Regards,
Joseph   
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

Offline Hamzeh

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2017, 08:04:35 AM »
Wa 3alykum assalam

Thank you again brother for further clarifying the matter.

Quote
There would be some difficulty interpreting verse 33:50 as allowing the prophet to take wives (with or without dowry) and then suddenly curtailing his marriages in the next verse(s).

I think this is a very good point you made and should not be dismissed. Under the previous thought I had to make sense out of it and figured the only way it was possible if the verses were only revealed in different times.

Quote
This is also quite a remarkable exception if one only considers that if this was a false prophet, one would not expect him to be placing such restrictions upon himself whilst allowing the other believers more ‘perceived’ freedoms.

I agree, I noted you had stipulated in one of your articles/posts how this can be viewed by some as a sign of the Quran's authenticity in some way.

Quote
Therefore in my humble view, it is therefore quite possible that the remit of the prophet's lawful marriages were being confirmed (33:50) and the exception was an inferred reference to the 2 points noted above which were explicitly elucidated in subsequent verses.

At first glance and I think many including myself read verse 33:50 with the view that those are the lawful wives to the prophet and not with the view that those were his wives and being confirmed.

However I have to agree with you that there is a strong indication that it does set the purpose that no marriage shall be lawful with any of the remit of the prophets lawful marriages and that no blame or difficulty should be on the prophet as this was the exception made from God and He already knows what He enjoined on the rest of the believers and their wives.

Also your argument may possibly be supported by the fact that the lawful and unlawful wives are already detailed in 4:23-24.

Quote
However more importantly (and as I trust that you will agree), whatever the nature of the exception for the prophet, this is not applicable to us today for our guiding purposes.

Very true. Thank you for the reminder

Jazak Allah Khair Insha'Allah

Salam

Offline Athman

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Re: Explanation of Verse 4:4
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2017, 08:47:20 AM »
Salaam,

This quite clearly sounds plausible, thanks for the same Br. Joseph.

A sound multi-levelled interpretation of "Mahr" capturing the intended nuances.

 "...A charitable, sincere gift (saduqatihinna nihlatan) that is ordained / agreed (faridah) and presented to her as her due (ajr)."

I do appreciate Br. Joseph for the clarification.

Regards,

Athman.