An-Nisa · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 23 [Part1]

Degrees of Women Never Eligible for One to Marry

The present ayaat (22 – 24) are an extension of the description of evil practices common in jahiliyyah which have been taken up earlier. These ayaat give details of muharramat, that is, women with whom marriage is prohibited. Some of them are prohibited forever, never becoming lawful under any condition. Some are not permanently prohibited. They become lawful under some particular circumstances.

This honorable Ayah is the Ayah that establishes the degrees of women relatives who are never eligible for one to marry, because of blood relations, relations established by suckling or marriage. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “(Allah said) I have prohibited for you seven types of relatives by blood and seven by marriage.” Ibn `Abbas then recited the Ayah,

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَـتُكُمْ وَبَنَـتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَتُكُمْ
“Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters…”At-Tabari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “Seven degrees of blood relation and seven degrees of marriage relation are prohibited (for marriage).” He then recited the Ayah,حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَـتُكُمْ وَبَنَـتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَتُكُمْ وَعَمَّـتُكُمْ وَخَـلَـتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الاٌّخِ وَبَنَاتُ الاٍّخْتِ

“Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters..” and these are the types prohibited by blood relation.” Allah’s statement,

وَأُمَّهَـتُكُمُ الْلاَّتِى أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَتُكُم مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ

“Your foster mothers who suckled you, your foster milk suckling sisters” means, just as your mother who bore you is prohibited for you in marriage, so is your mother from suckling prohibited for you. Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded that `A’ishah, the Mother of the Faithful, said that the Messenger of Allah said,

إِنَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ تُحَرِّمُ مَا تُحَرِّمُ الْوِلَادَة

“Suckling prohibits what birth prohibits.” In another narration reported by Muslim,

يَحْرُمُ مِنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ مَا يَحْرُمُ مِنَ النَّسَب

“Suckling establishes prohibited degrees just as blood does.”

Suckling that Establishes Prohibition for MarriageLess than five incidents of suckling will not establish prohibition for marriage. In his Sahih, Muslim recorded that `A’ishah said, “Among the parts of the Qur’an that were revealed, is the statement, `Ten incidents of suckling establishes the prohibition (concerning marriage).’ It was later abrogated with five, and the Messenger of Allah died while this statement was still recited as part of the Qur’an.”’

A Hadith that Sahlah bint Suhayl narrated states that the Messenger of Allah ordered her to suckle Salim the freed slave of Abu Hudhayfah with five.” It should be asserted here that the suckling mentioned must occur before the age of two, as stated when explained the Ayah 223 in Surah al-Baqarah,

يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَـدَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ“(The mothers) should suckle their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling.” The Mother-in-Law and Stepdaughter are Prohibited in Marriage Allah said next,

وَأُمَّهَـتُ نِسَآئِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّـتِى فِى حُجُورِكُمْ مِّن نِّسَآئِكُمُ اللَّـتِى دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُواْ دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ

“Your wives’ mothers, your stepdaughters under your guardianship, born of your wives unto whom you have gone in – but there is no sin on you if you have not gone in unto them..” As for the mother of the wife, she becomes prohibited for marriage for her son-in-law when the marriage is conducted, whether the son-in-law has sexual relations with her daughter or not. As for the wife’s daughter, she becomes prohibited for her stepfather when he has sexual relations with her mother, after the marriage contract is ratified. If the man divorces the mother before having sexual relations with her, he is allowed to marry her daughter. So Allah said;

وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّـتِى فِى حُجُورِكُمْ مِّن نِّسَآئِكُمُ اللَّـتِى دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُواْ دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ

“Your stepdaughters under your guardianship, born of your wives unto whom you have gone in — but there is no sin on you if you have not gone in unto them,” to marry the stepdaughter.

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