Wives are tilth
Dear Dr Saab, AA
I have copied and pasted your excellent article on this topic but I am confused by a few verses elsewhere in the Quran that use Nisa for wives (the majority verses say women which agree with your translation in 2.223) so would you please help me on this.
According to Allama Khatib Baghdadi, ‘Imam’ Malik and ‘Imam’ Shafi’i used to have unnatural relationship with their wives quoting, “Your wives are your tilths.” (Gharaib Fil Tahqiqil Mazahib).
It is pathetic to note a fabricated Hadith naming Hazrat Umar. The topic again was, “Your wives are your tilths.” He said “O Messenger of Allah! I destroyed myself last night! I turned my ride prone.”
Here are a number of translators who use wives in this verse:-
223. Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will; but do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear Allah. And know that ye are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give (these) good tidings to those who believe.
Your wives are your tilth : so you may go to your tilth as you please,241 but you should take care of your future242 and refrain from the displeasure of Allah. Know it well that One Day you shall meet Him. (O Prophet !) bear good tidings to the Believers.
223. Your wives are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth (have sexual relations with your wives in any manner as long as it is in the vagina and not in the anus), when or how you will, and send (good deeds, or ask Allâh to bestow upon you pious offspring) before you for your ownselves. And fear Allâh, and know that you are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give good tidings to the believers (O Muhammad SAW).
Muhammad Zafrulla Khan
223 Your wives are as a tilth for you, so approach your tilth as you like and lay up a store of good for yourselves. Be mindful of your duty to Allah, and be sure you shall meet Him. Give glad tidings concerning that day to the believers.
Parwez Saab, Exposition of Quran
222 They ask you about (sexual intercourse during) menstruation. Tell them to refrain from it since during this period women are not in their normal physical condition. When this period is over, approach them in the manner suggested by Allah’s Natural Law.
If you did not act thus before, do so now. Allah’s Law approves of those who forsake the wrong path and adopt the right one.
223 Your wives are like a land which produces a harvest. You should cohabit together when both spouses desire to do so. But keep this in mind that procreation is not the sole purpose of life. You should also see what you have sowed here is to be reaped in the Hereafter according to the Laws of Allah. You should keep in mind that the Hereafter is a reality and glad tidings are for those who adhere to Allah’s Laws.
But the verse mentions women in the society (Nisaa), not wives (Azwaj) as our historians and exponents would portray.
223. Nisaokum harthun lakum fa/too harthakum anna shi/tum waqaddimoo li-anfusikum waittaqoo Allaha waiAAlamoo annakum mulaqoohu wabashshiri almu/mineena
2:223 The women in the society are the guardians of your future generations, just as a garden keeps the seeds and turns them into flowering plants. So, whenever you meet with women socially, treat them with respect, keeping the aforementioned principle in mind. This conduct will go a along way to insure the betterment of the future generations. Send forth good today for the sake of tomorrow. Be mindful of Allah and know that you will, one day, face Him. O Messenger! Give good news to the believers.
SEE WHAT BUKHARI DOES: Abdullah Ibne Umar was reciting the Qur’an. When he reached verse 2:223, he asked Naaf’e whether he knew the application of this verse. Then he went on to explain: “Your women are your tilths therefore go to your tilths, as you please. If you wish, go into her . . . . . . (Bukhari 2:729). It is astounding that even the original Arabic text leaves a blank space here!
In the following verses NISA has been translated as wives and you have done so as well.
Ühılle leküm leyletes sıyamir rafesü ila nisaiküm* hünne libasül leküm ve entüm libasül lehünn* alimellahü enneküm küntüm tahtaune enfüseküm fe tabe aleyküm ve afa anküm* fel anebaşiruhünne vevteğu ma ketebellahü leküm* ve külu veşrabu hatta yetebeyyene lekümül hüytul ebyadu minel haytıl esvedi minel fecri sümme etimmüs sıyame ilel leyl* ve la tübaşiruhünne ve entüm akifune fil mesacid* tilke hududüllahi fe la takrabuha* kezalike yübeyyinüllahü ayatihı lin nasi leallehüm yettekun
English Yusuf Ali: [2:187]
Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what ye used to do secretly among yourselves; but He turned to you and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what Allah Hath ordained for you, and eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears; but do not associate with your wives while ye are in retreat in the mosques. Those are Limits (set by) Allah: Approach not nigh thereto. Thus doth Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint.
2:187 (Abstinence is only for the daytime.) It has been made Lawful for you to go unto your wives on the night of the Abstinence. They are your garments and you are their garments - close to each other, source of mutual comfort, complementing each other, trustworthy and keepers of privacy, reason for décor, and redressers of faults. God knows that you would have deprived yourselves and so He turns to you and pardons your misconceptions. So, now you may have intimate relations with them and, besides, seek all good that God has ordained for you. You may eat and drink until you can discern the white streak of light against the black streak of night at daybreak. Then complete the Abstinence until sunset. Do not have intimate relations with them while on special assignments in the Centers of the Divine System. These are the bounds set by God - so come not near violating them. It is thus that God explains His Commands unto mankind clearly, so that they understand and live upright.
Elleziyne yuzahirune minkum min nisaihim ma hunne ummehatihim in ummehatuhum ilellaiy velednehum ve innehum leyekulune munkeren minelkavli ve zuren ve innallahe le'afuvvun ğafurun.
English Yusuf Ali: [58:2]
If any men among you divorce their wives by Zihar (calling them mothers), they cannot be their mothers: None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And in fact they use words (both) iniquitous and false: but truly Allah is one that blots out (sins), and forgives (again and again).
58:2 Those of you who ‘divorce’ their wives by calling them mothers, they, by no means, become their mothers. Their mothers are only those who gave birth to them. And so, behold, they only utter what is contrary to reason, and thus, false. And behold, God is Absolver of faults, Forgiving.
Velleziyne yuzahirune min nisaihim summe ye'udune lima kalu fetahriyru rekabetin min kabli en yetemassa zalikum tu'azune bihi vallahu bima ta'melune habiyrun.
English Yusuf Ali: [58:3]
But those who divorce their wives by Zihar, then wish to go back on the words they uttered,- (It is ordained that such a one) should free a slave before they touch each other: Thus are ye admonished to perform: and Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do.
58:3 Hence, those of you who have made senseless declarations about their wives, estranged them, and then wish to go back on their utterance - they should free a human being from bondage before the couple may have intimate relations with each other. This you are admonished to perform. And God is aware of all you do.
You also have the previous verse to 223 speaking about “approaching wives” as a meaning for the nisa here:-
Ve yes'eluneke anil mehıyd* kul hüve ezen fa'tezilün nisae fil mehıydı ve la takrabuhünne hatta yathurn* fe iza tetahherne fe'tuhünne min haysü emerakümllah* innellahe yühıbbüt tevvabıne ve yühıbbül mütetahhirın
English Yusuf Ali: [2:222]
They ask thee concerning women's courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution: So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean. But when they have purified themselves, ye may approach them in any manner, time, or place ordained for you by Allah. For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.
2:222 They ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is an inconvenience. So keep away from (intimacy with) women during menstruation and approach them not until they are rid of it. Once they are rid of it, you may approach them (your wives) for intimate relations in the manner designed by God. Indeed, God loves those who make amends and loves those who rid their minds of false dogmas.” [See 2:223. Mutahhireen = Mutahharoon = Those who are clean = Clean of mind 56:79]
If Nisa can mean wives in these verses, then why not in Surah 2:223?