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December 31st, 2014

Women not “weak of understanding” according to the Quran

Please consider the following consecutive verses of the Holy Quran (obviously the bolding is mine):

4:4 And give women their dowries as a free gift. But if they of themselves are pleased to give you a portion from it, consume it with enjoyment and pleasure.

4:5 And do not make over your property, which Allah has made a (means of) support for you, to the weak of understanding, and maintain them out of it, and clothe them and give them a good education.

4:6 And test the orphans until they reach the age of marriage. Then if you find in them maturity of intellect, make over to them their property…

4:7 For men is a share of what the parents and the near relatives leave, and for women a share of what the parents and the near relatives leave, whether it is little or much — an appointed share.

According to 4:4, a woman has the discretion to give a part of the mahr back to the husband at her pleasure. (In the Arabic original, "of themselves" is nafs-an, and "are pleased" is tibna.)

According to 4:5, the "weak of understanding" must not be given control of their property. It is in fact "your property" in the sense that you, the guardians, have control of it, for their benefit.

According to 4:7, when "maturity of intellect" (rushd) is found in someone then they must be given control of their property.

It follows, therefore, that women are not "weak of understanding", and have "maturity of intellect", otherwise they would not have been allowed to spend, out of their own pleasure and decision, the property possessed by them.

In 4:7 it is ruled that men and women shall both get a share from inheritance. Therefore a woman has the same ownership over it, as a man does over his share.

If it is true, as we understand, that in the law of Saudi Arabia a woman must always have a male as a guardian, in the same way that a child always requires a guardian, then that is against what is stated in the verse above.

Zahid Aziz

2 Responses to “Women not “weak of understanding” according to the Quran”

  1. Over the Christmas holidays I met a student of Zaytuna College (link) which categorizes itself as Liberal Arts College, but is essentially an Islamic seminary school (link). A spontaneous discussion arose about Lady Ayesha’s age at the time of her marriage with the Prophet. To my surprise, that student was vehemently defending it to be nine years because to him it was based upon Hadith, and on the premise that there was no mention of marriageable age in Quran. He justified it on the logic that such age of marriage was not unprecedented in that Mary (mother of Jesus) too was married at a young age. He was also apologetically justifying the said marriage on local customs of Arabia during the time of the Prophet.  In the course of discussion it became obvious to me that he has been taught all this in his school or influenced under its environs. It also came across that the focus of the said school is in education based upon Jurisprudence schools since the names Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi were quoted in same breath.  To my surprise there was no focus or emphasis on Quran as the source of moral doctrines or laws.

    I quoted him in a gist the verses 4:5-6 above which clearly state that orphans can be given in marriage and handed over charge of their property by their guardians once they are not ‘weak of understanding’ but also have ‘maturity of intellect’. These conditions in modern terms translate into skills in which that person is able to handle and strategize profit and loss, undertake/issue loan, lease a property, manage accounting, keep records, understand tax code, manage money and bank accounts etc. By any calculation and any culture, and by any standards in any time period in history, such an age has to be at least in late teens if not later. If we additionally read verse 4:4, it reinforces 4:5-6, because receiving dowry is essentially handling of property which can only be done in Quran by someone who has 'maturity of intellect'. Essentially, the logic in all these three verses is recursive, which in turn totally eliminates any abuse, be it physical, emotional, moral or material, in the contractual relationship of marriage.

    In light of the said verses and in sum-total there cannot be a child marriage under Islam. And who knew Quran more than the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu-Bakr (RA), the father of Lady Ayesha (RA)?  Who would have followed the injunctions in Quran more than the Prophet himself and his companion in the Cave of Thaur? We do not have to guess answers to these questions. Clearly the ‘namus’ of Prophet and dignity of Islam is a risk at the hands of none others than the ‘believers’, be they in the East or in the current case, the West.

    A tree is known by the quality of its fruit and an apple does not fall far from its tree either.  Zaytuna, its founder (link) and now its students are just a case in point. The quality of the tree, when it got tested itself by its own words and logic, can be read in a reply before: http://www.ahmadiyya.org/movement/hamza_yusuf_reply.pdf

    Side note: ‘Ayesha’s age’ – discussion and other links: http://ahmadiyya.org/WordPress/2012/09/10/issue-70/


  2. January 2nd, 2015 at 7:59 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    In his book The Religion of Islam, ch. Property, under heading 'Guardian of Minor', after quoting 4:6 ("and test the orphans until they reach the age of marriage. Then if you find in them maturity of intellect, make over to them their property…"), Maulana Muhammad Ali writes:

    "A minor is thus not allowed to manage his own property which must be made over to a guardian. If the guardian is rich, he is required to do the work of guardianship honorar­ily, and if he is poor, his wages would be a charge on the property. The age of majority is eighteen years, according to Abu Hanifah, in the case of males and seventeen in the case of females, but accord­ing to Shafi and Ahmad [ibn Hanbal], it is fifteen in both cases."

    Therefore, in case of property management, schools of Jurisprudence mention an age of majority. This is also called the age of marriage in 4:6 in the Quran.


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