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Surah Nisa Ayat 24, Surah An Nisa Ayat 24, Surat An Nisa 24

 Surat An Nisa Ayat 24 In Arabic

وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۖ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُمْ مَا وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَنْ تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ ۚ فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا تَرَاضَيْتُمْ بِهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ الْفَرِيضَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا ﴿24﴾

 Surat An Nisa Ayat 24 Transliteration

Walmuhsanaatu minan nisaaa’i illaa maa malakat aimaanukum kitaabal laahi ‘alaikum; wa uhilla lakum maa waraaa’a zaalikum an tabtaghoo bi’amwaalikum muhsineena ghaira musaa fiheen; famastamta’tum bihee minhunna fa aatoohunna ujoorahunna fareedah; wa laa junaaha ‘alaikum feemaa taraadaitum bihee mim ba’dil fareedah; innal laaha kaana ‘Aleeman Hakeemaa

Surat An Nisa Ayat 24 Translation

(Also prohibited are) the women already bound in marriage, except the bondwomen you come to own. It has been written by Allah for you. All (women), except these, have been permitted for you to seek (to marry) through your wealth, binding yourself, (in marriage) and not only for lust. So, to those of them whose company you have enjoyed, give their dues (dower) as obligated. There is no sin on you in what you mutually agree upon after the (initial) agreement. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.


وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ (the women already bound in marriage): It means that women having husbands have also been made unlawful. So far as a woman is married to a person, no other person can marry her. From here, it becomes very clear that a woman cannot live with more than one husband simultaneously. There are some ignorant and loudmouthed people in our time who have started saying – when men are allowed to take more than one wife, women too should have the permission to enjoy more than one husband. This tasteless bravado is totally contrary to this noble verse. People who indulge in such flippant display of ignorance do not see that plurality of wives is a blessing which has been historically endorsed in all religions and soci¬eties. But, for a woman, having more than one husband at the same time is not only a headache for her in person, but it is also disgraceful for those two men who become husbands to one woman.

This weird arrangement is not only shameless, but also leaves no possibility of any offspring being born lineally sound. When many men benefit from one woman, there will remain no method of attributing the fatherhood of the child so born to any one of the participating husbands. Such an obnoxious demand can only be made by those who are totally hostile to the graces of humanity, those who have buried their sense of shame once and for all and those who are supporting the movement to deprive human beings of blessings that issue forth from the recognized channel of parents and children bound in a charter of mutual rights. When lineage goes unproved, who is going to be charged with the responsibility of taking care of mutual rights and duties?

Even if this is looked at purely in terms of nature and reason, there seems to be no justification for the provision of several husbands for one woman:

  1. The basic purpose of marriage is procreation. Seen from this angle, several women can certainly become pregnant from one man, but one woman cannot become pregnant from several men. She will become pregnant from none but one. What has thus happened is that, given the presence of several husbands, the procreating ability of all husbands, except one, was totally wasted on that count. They ended up with nothing beneficial except the lone satisfaction of their sexual drive.
  2. Experience shows that woman is a genre more delicate than man. For a major portion of the year, she does not remain physically amenable to intimacy. There are conditions and circumstances in married life when it is not possible for her to fulfill the rights of even one husband, let alone more than one husband seeking her physical attention.
  3. Since man is healthier and stronger in terms of physical power as compared to woman, man should, if his sexual strength is above average and he cannot find satisfaction by limiting himself to one woman, have the opportunity, of course by permissible means, to marry twice and thrice. If this is not allowed, he will take to impermis¬sible ways of satisfying his desires, and in that process, he will ruin the whole society. But, the likelihood that woman could bring about such ruination is very remote.

This question is so important in the Shari` ah of Islam that it has not only ruled the second marriage of a woman unlawful when she is already married to someone else, but it also goes farther when it rules that, should the husband of a woman divorce her, or die, she still cannot marry another person until after the expiry of her ` iddah or waiting period.

إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ (except the bondwomen you come to own): This sentence is an exception from the rule set in وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ ; (the women already bound in marriage).

It means that it is not permissible that a woman who already has a husband be taken in marriage by another person, unless she comes in the ownership of a person as a bondwoman. This happened when Muslims had to carry out jihad against the infidels of Dar-al-harb (a non-Muslim state without a treaty of peace with the Muslims). As a result of a valid war with them women prisoners might have been brought to the Islamic state. If their non-Muslim husbands remained behind in their original non-Muslim State, their bond of marriage with them used to be terminated by their entry into the Islamic state, and it was lawful for a Muslim to marry her, if she was a Christian, a Jew or had embraced Islam. Similarly, if the head of the Islamic state opted to make her a bondwoman and had given her to a participant in the war as his share in the spoils, he could also enjoy her company. However, this marriage or enjoyment was permissible only after she goes through at least one menstruation period after her entry into the Islamic state. If it appeared that she was pregnant from her previous husband, it was necessary to wait until she delivers the child.


  1. If a disbelieving woman embraces Islam in Dar al-Harb while her husband is a disbeliever, she will be released from the bond of marriage with him after the expiry of three menstrual periods.
  2. If a disbelieving woman embraces Islam in Dar al-Islam and her husband is a disbeliever, then, the local legal authority should induce the husband to think about accepting Islam. If he refuses to become a Muslim, the Muslim judge should bring about a separation between the two. This separation will be taken as the divorce after which, the woman completes her period of ` iddah and becomes free to marry any Muslim of her choice.

كِتَابَ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ (It has been written by Allah for you): It means that the unlawfulness of marriage with women identified by Allah is something determined by Him.

وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَ‌اءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ (All except them have been permitted for you): It means that women other than those whose unlawfulness has been mentioned upto this point are lawful for you; for example, the daughter of an uncle, the daughter of a maternal aunt, the sister born of a maternal uncle, and the wife of a maternal or paternal uncle – after their death or after they have divorced her – subject to the condi¬tion that any other reason of prohibition does not exist. In addition to that, there is the wife of an adopted son who can be lawfully married after he divorces, or dies; so also, if one’s wife dies, he can marry her sister – these being some of the many lawful options available. All these have been covered under the generality of مَّا وَرَ‌اءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ (All except them).


It is not permissible to have more than four wives simultaneously. Detailed comments on this subject have already appeared in the begin¬ning of Surah Al-Nis-a’. Not finding any reference to this in the imme¬diate context of the present verses should not lead anyone to misun¬derstand that, may be, the generality of the Qur’anic words, ” مَّا وَرَ‌اءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ (All except them) allows unrestricted marriage with women. Besides the women, marriage with whom is unlawful as declared in the Holy Qur’an, there are several others in this category as mentioned in the noble Ahadith, indications of which appear in the Qur’anic verses also and to which we have been pointing out in our comments.

أَن تَبْتَغُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُم (that you may seek { to marry} through your wealth):

It means that the description of women unlawful for marriage is there to induce you to look for lawful women with the help of your wealth and enter into marriage with them. In الاحکام القرآن Ahkam al-Qur’an, Abu Bakr al-Jassas (رح) writes that this part of the verse tells us two things. Firstly, marriage cannot materialize devoid of dower (even if the parties to marriage decide between themselves that the marriage will take place without dower, still, dower will be necessary, details of which are available in books of Fiqh). Secondly, it tells us that dower (mahr) should be something which can be termed as مال “mal’ (inclusive of wealth, property, assets etc.) According to the Hanafiyyah, mahr (dower) should not be less than ten dirhams. One dirham is equivalent to 3 1/2×17 grains Troy of silver.

مُّحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ‌ مُسَافِحِينَ (binding yourself in marriage, and not only for lust): It means that one should seek lawful women with the help of one’s assets and it should be clearly understood that the seeking of women is to safeguard modesty and chastity, which is the crucial purpose of a marriage. And it is through marriage alone that the desired objective has to be achieved and certainly not through spend¬ings to find women for zina (fornication). This tells us that, no doubt the fornicators too spend out of their assets, but that spending is patently unlawful, and benefiting from a woman who has been procured by such spending is never lawful. The addition of غَيْرَ‌ مُسَافِحِينَ 1 (not for lust) here serves two purposes. As obvious, it forbids zina (fornication) while it also points out that the purpose of zina is nothing but to run after lust and to waste one’s semen for unlawful enjoyment – because it is not aimed at the seeking of children and the preserva¬tion of the human race. Muslims must stay chaste investing their strength where it is due in the best interest of human procreation, the method of which is to have a wife in marriage, or a bondwoman – in case one comes to have one.

  1. Literally, it means ‘flowing of water’ and indicates to seeking ejaculation out of lust. (Editor)

فَمَا اسْتَمْتَعْتُم بِهِ مِنْهُنَّ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَ‌هُنَّ فَرِ‌يضَةً (So, whoever of them you have benefited from, give them their due as obligated): ‘Benefiting’ in this verse refers to coition and it means that the payment of full dower is due on the husband only when he had benefited from her company by having sex with her. If, after the initial marriage contract the wife has not come to live with the husband who thus does not get the opportu¬nity to ‘benefit’ from her company, and he divorces her before having that opportunity, the payment of mahr (dower) due against him becomes half. Special attention has been drawn in this verse to the situation when, once this ‘benefit’ has been received from some woman, the payment of her mahr becomes obligatory on all counts. Any shortcoming in doing so is against the letter and spirit of Muslim law. Moreover, the universal human sense of honour dictates that consequent to the purpose of marriage having been achieved, there should be no failing or delaying in giving the wife her due – however, the Shari’ah gives the woman the additional right that she can, if the mahr (dower) is prompt مُعَجَّل (mu’ajjal), refuse to go to her husband until the payment of the mahr has been made to her.

The unlawfulness of Mut’ah

The root of the Arabic word, إستمتاع : istimta’ is ع ۔ ت – م (mim – ta – ‘ain) which means to derive benefit.. Any benefit derived from a person or from wealth, property, assets etc. is called istimta’. According to Arabic grammar, the addition of the letters س : sin and ت : ta to the root of any word gives the meaning of seeking. Based on this lexical expla¬nation, the simple and straight sense of the Qur’anic expression, اسْتَمْتَعْتُم (you have benefited), as understood by the entire Muslim ummah from the revered early elders to their successors and followers, is just what we have stated a little earlier. But, a sect1 says that it means the conventional mut’ah and, according to its adherents, this verse proves that mut’ah is halal (lawful). Therefore, it is pertinent here to give a brief account of mut’ah and its unlawfulness.

  1. [ i.e. the Shiites ] (editor).

Mut’ah which was in vogue before the advent of Islam was a temporary contract between a man and a woman for having sexual relationship between them for a specified period in exchange of money or a specified kind offered by the man to the woman. This type of contract, which was never meant to create permanent rights and obli¬gations of marriage, was clearly prohibited by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, however, this particular sect claims that it is still halal (permissible). They sometimes seek support to this claim from the present verse just on the ground that the word ‘mut’ah’ has been derived from the same root wherefrom the word اسْتَمْتَعْتُم used in this verse has been derived. Obviously, this argument is too far-fetched, and the present verse itself is sufficient to refute it, because before the word اسْتَمْتَعْتُم ، the Holy Qur’an has used the words مُّحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ‌ مُسَافِحِينَ (binding yourself in marriage and not only for lust) which clearly prove that the sexual relationship approved by the Holy Qur’an is the only one which aims at chastity through the permanent bond of marriage, and not a relationship based on satisfying lust for a temporary period which has been termed by the Holy Qur’an as ‘flowing water’.

Now, it is obvious that the contract of mut’ah has nothing to do with this concept. It neither creates permanent rights and obligations, nor does it bring about a family set-up, nor does it aim at having chil¬dren and maintain chastity: It is nothing but to satisfy the sexual desire for a short period of time.

As a result, the woman with whom mut’ah is done is not given even the status of a wife who could inherit from her very pragmatic counter-part – who, for that matter, does not even have the grace to count her among his recognized wives. The reason is very simple as the purpose here is nothing but sexual gratification, an attitude which drives men and women to keep hunting for ever-new sex-partners in a temporary setting. If this be the state of affairs, mut’ah (referred to as temporary marriage) can never be taken as the guarantor of modesty and chas¬tity; it is, on the contrary, its very enemy.

Therefore, the Qur’anic words مُّحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ‌ مُسَافِحِينَ are more than enough to rule out the possibility of mut’ah being meant by the present verse.

The author of Hidayah has attributed to Imam Malik (رح) that, according to him, mut’ah is permissible. But, this attribution is totally incorrect as clarified by the commentator of Hidayah and other respected scholars who say that the author of Hidayah has attributed this view to Imam Malik inadvertently.

However, there are some of those who claim that Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas (رض) believed in the lawfulness of mut’ah right upto his later years, although this is not so. Imam al-Tirmidhi (رح) ، devoting a chapter to “mut’ah”, has reported two ahadith. The first one is as follows:

عن علي بن طالب أن النبی (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) نھیٰ عن متعة النساء و عن لحوم الحمر الأھلیة زمن خیبر.

Ali ibn Abi Talib (رض) reports that the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) on the occasion of the battle of Khyber, prohibited mut’ah with women and from (eating) the meat of domestic donkeys.

This hadith appears in al-Bukhari and Muslim as well. The second hadith reported by Imam al-Tirmidhi is given below:

عن ابن عباس قال : إنما کانت المتعة في أول الإسلام حتی إذا نزلت الآیة: الا علی ازواجھم او ما ملکت ایمانھم، قال ابن عباس: فکل فرج سواھما فھو حرام

Ibn ` Abbas (رض) says: Mut’ah was there only in the early period of Islam until the verse إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ ) – was revealed. Then, he said: All private parts other than these are unlawful (that is other than those of the legally wedded wife and the bondwoman one may come to have).

Nevertheless, this much has to be said that Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas (رض) took mut’ah to be permissible upto a certain time. Then, it was on the good counsel of Sayyidna ` Ali (رض) عنہ         (as in Sahih Muslim, v.l, p.452) and under the chastening impact of the noble verse: إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ he revoked his earlier position, as indicated in the narra¬tion from Tirmidhi.

It is very strange that the sect which believes in the lawfulness of mut’ah – despite its claim to love and obey Sayyidna ` Ali (رض) – elects to oppose no less a person than him on this particular issue.

The author of Ruh al-Ma’ani reports from Qadi ‘Ay-ad that mut’ah was lawful before the battle of Khyber, but it was made unlawful during it. After that, it was declared lawful on the day of the Conquest of Makkah, but it was after three days that it was proclaimed as unlawful forever.

There is yet another point worthy of our attention. The Qur’anic statement:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُ‌وجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ ﴿5﴾ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ‌ مَلُومِينَ ﴿6﴾

(And those who guard their private parts, save from their wives or from their bondwomen, then, they are not blame-worthy).

is so explicit that it admits of no other interpretation. It shows the unlawfulness of mut’ah very clearly. Seeking flimsy support from some rare and unauthentic readings is absolutely incorrect.

To sum up our earlier submissions, there is no absolute proof to support the view that the Qur’anic word, اسْتَمْتَعْتُم (you have benefited) refers to conventional mut’ah. This is just a remote possibility which can never override the absolute proof contained inإِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ cited above. Specially, keeping in view the well-settled principle of Islamic jurisprudence, that where two arguments or two interpreta¬tions are equally possible, the one supporting prohibition is always preferred.


Like mut’ah, a time bound marriage is also unlawful. A time-bound marriage (termed in Islamic jurisprudence as النکاح المُوَقَّت al-nikah al-muwaqqat) is a marriage entered into for a fixed time. The difference between the two is that mut’ah is done by using the words of mut’ah. A time-bound marriage is done by saying the word, nikah which is normally used for regular marriage.

وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا تَرَ‌اضَيْتُم بِهِ مِن بَعْدِ الْفَرِ‌يضَةِ (And there is no sin on you in what you mutually consent to after the { initial) settlement): This sentence in the verse means that mahr or dower which has been fixed mutually is not, in the real sense, absolute and definitive, and something to which nothing could be added or deleted. On the contrary, a husband can add something on his own accord on the fixed mahr, and the wife too, if she so desires, willingly and happily, can forgo a part of her mahr, or the whole of it. The generality of the words also allows a situation where a woman willingly agrees to defer the payment of a dower which was originally settled to be prompt.

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا (Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise): The addi¬tion of this sentence towards the end of the verse tells us two things. Firstly, that All knows. He is aware of everything. His injunctions are there to be complied with. If somebody acts against these and even if a judge, a ruler, or any other human being ever gets to find out about it, Allah, in His most exalted state of being, knows all about this and everything else. One must keep fearing Him under all circumstances. Secondly, that the injunctions He has revealed are all based on حِکمہ hikmah or wisdom. In essence, hikmah (Allah’s wisdom) is too deep to be understood by everyone. The injunctions concerning what is unlawful and lawful as given in these verses, whether or not one understands their cause, reason or justification, must be believed in, accepted and obeyed. This is because, even though we may not know the raison d’etre, the cause, reason or justification, it hardly matters, for the Creator and the Master of the Command, Allah Almighty certainly knows it all, being the All-Knowing, the Wise.

There are many people, educated but ignorant, visibly spread out in our contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim societies, who go about gopher-like, searching for the causes of Divine injunctions. When they fail to find any, they side-track the need to comply with the injunction by saying that the Word of God was, God-forbid, contrary to the requirements of the modern age, or worse still, unsuitable. The words of the verse have silenced such people for ever by telling them: ‘You are ignorant. Your Creator is All-Knowing. You lack understanding. Allah is All-Wise. Do not make your reason the touchstone of the Truth.’

[From Ma’ariful Quran English by Mufti Taqi Uthmani]

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