An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 33

The Law of Inheritance

 

In Ayah 33, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

وَلِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مَوَالِىَ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَلِدَنِ وَالاٌّقْرَبُونَ وَالَّذِينَ عَقَدَتْ أَيْمَـنُكُمْ فَـَاتُوهُمْ نَصِيبَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ شَهِيداً

“And to everyone, We have appointed Mawali of that left by parents and relatives. To those also with whom you have made a pledge (brotherhood), give them their due portion (by wills). Truly, Allah is Ever a Witness over all things.”

Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Salih, Qatadah, Zayd bin Aslam, As-Suddi, Ad-Dahhak, Muqatil bin Hayyan, and others said that Allah’s statement,

وَلِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مَوَالِىَ

“And to everyone, We have appointed Mawali…”

means, “Heirs.” Ibn `Abbas was also reported to have said that Mawali refers to relatives. Ibn Jarir commented, “The Arabs call the cousin a Mawla.” Ibn Jarir continued, “Allah’s statement,

مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَلِدَنِ وَالاٌّقْرَبُونَ

“of that (property) left by parents and relatives.”

means, from what he inherited from his parents and family members. Therefore, the meaning of the Ayah becomes: `To all of you, O people, We appointed relatives (such as children) who will later inherit what you inherited from your own parents and relatives.” Allah’s statement,

وَالَّذِينَ عَقَدَتْ أَيْمَـنُكُمْ فَـَاتُوهُمْ نَصِيبَهُمْ

“To those also with whom you have made a pledge (brotherhood), give them their due portion.”

means, “Those with whom you have a pledge of brotherhood, give them their share of inheritance, thus fulfilling the ratified pledges that you gave them. Allah has witnessed all of you when you gave these pledges and promises.” This practice was followed in the beginning of Islam, but was later on abrogated when Muslims were commanded to fulfill the pledges (brotherhood) they had already given, but to refrain from making any new pledges after that. Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said,

وَلِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مَوَالِىَ

“meaning, heirs;

وَالَّذِينَ عَقَدَتْ أَيْمَـنُكُمْ

When the emigrants came to Al-Madinah, the emigrant would inherit from the Ansari, while the latter’s relatives would not inherit from him because of the bond of brotherhood which the Prophet established between them (the emigrants and the Ansar). When the ayah,

وَلِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مَوَالِىَ

was revealed, it cancelled (the pledge of brotherhood regarding inheritance).” Then he said, “The ayah,

وَالَّذِينَ عَقَدَتْ أَيْمَـنُكُمْ فَـَاتُوهُمْ نَصِيبَهُمْ

remained valid for cases of co-operation and mutual advice, while the matter of inheritance was excluded and it became permissible to assign something in one’s will to the person who had the right of inheriting before.”

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