In the previous ayah we learned that if the intention is to continue living with one’s wife then it is necessary to live with her amicably, fulfilling all rights due to her in the recognized manner. For anyone who finds himself incapable of doing so, it is proper to release her from the bond of marriage in a decent way. Now, if the woman too is willing to be released, the situation is open and clear as the parting of ways will come about in a pleasant manner.
وَلَن تَسْتَطِيعُواْ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ بَيْنَ النِّسَآءِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ
“And you will never be able to deal justly between the women even if you desire to…”
It means that one will never be able to be perfectly just between wives in every respect. Even when one divides the nights justly between wives, there will still be various degrees concerning love, desire and intimacy, as Ibn Abbas, Ubaydah As-Salmani, Mujahid, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim stated.
Imam Ahmad and the collectors of the Sunan recorded that Aisha radhiAllahu anha said, “The Messenger of Allah used to treat his wives equally and proclaim,
اللَّهُمَّ هَذَا قَسْمِي فِيمَا أَمْلِكُ، فَلَا تَلُمْنِي فِيمَا تَمْلِكُ وَلَا أَمْلِك
“O Allah! This is my division in what I own, so do not blame me for what You own and I do not own” referring to his heart. This was the wording that Abu Dawud collected, and its chain of narrators is saheeh.
فَلاَ تَمِيلُواْ كُلَّ الْمَيْلِ
“….but do not incline completely (towards one)…”
means, when you like one of your wives more than others, do not exaggerate in treating her that way,
“….and leave another hanging.”
Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan said that Mu`allaqah i.e. hanging means, “She is neither divorced nor married.”
Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded that Abu Huraira radhiAllahu anhu said that the Messenger of Allah said,
مَنْ كَانَتْ لَهُ امْرَأَتَانِ فَمَالَ إِلى إِحْدَاهُمَا، جَاءَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَأَحَدُ شِقَّيْهِ سَاقِط
“Whoever has two wives and inclines to one of them (too much), will come on the Day of Resurrection with one of his sides dragging.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then states,
وَإِن تُصْلِحُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً
“And if you reconcile and fear Allah – then indeed, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
This means that if you do justice and divide equally in what you have power over, while fearing Allah in all conditions, then Allah will forgive you the favoritism that you showed to some of your wives.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then said,
وَإِن يَتَفَرَّقَا يُغْنِ اللَّهُ كُلاًّ مِّن سَعَتِهِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ وَسِعاً حَكِيماً
“And if they separate, Allah will enrich each of them from His abundance. And Allah is All-Encompassing.”
This is the third case between husband and wife, in which divorce occurs. Allah states that if the spouses separate by divorce, then Allah will suffice them by giving him a better wife and her a better husband.
وَكَانَ اللَّهُ وَسِعاً حَكِيماً
Means His favor is tremendous, His bounty is enormous and He is All-Wise in all His actions, decisions and commandments.