orphans, then, of other women who seem good in your eyes, marry but two, or three, or four; and if ye still fear that ye shall not act equitably, then one only; or the slaves whom ye have acquired: this will make justice on your part easier. Give women their dowry freely; but if of themselves they give up aught thereof to you, then enjoy it as convenient, and profitable:
And entrust not to the incapable the substance which God hath placed with you for their support; but maintain them therewith, and clothe them, and speak to them with kindly speech.
And make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; and if ye perceive in them a sound judgment, then hand over their substance to them; but consume ye it not wastefully, or by hastily entrusting it to them;
Because they are growing up. And let the rich guardian not even touch it; and let him who is poor use it for his support (eat of it) with discretion.
And when ye make over their substance to them, then take witnesses in their presence: God also maketh a sufficient account.
Men ought to have a part of what their parents and kindred leave; and women a part of what their parents and kindred leave: whether it be little or much, let them have a stated portion.
And when they who are of kin are present at the division, and the orphans and the poor, let them too have a share; and speak to them with kindly speech.
And let those be afraid to wrong the orphans, who, should they leave behind them weakly offspring, would be solicitous
- Muhammad assumed to himself the privilege of having a yet greater number of wives. But in doing so, he was probably actuated by a desire for male offspring. Chadijah was his only wife until quite a late period of his career. Comp. Arbah Turim. Ev. Hazaer 1, " A man may marry many wives, for Rabba saith it is lawful to do so, if he can provide for them. Nevertheless, the wise men have given good advice, that a man should not marry more than four wives." See also Yad Hachazakah Hilchoth Ishuth. 14, 3.
- Verses 8 and 12 are said by the commentators to have been revealed in consequence of the complaints of Omm Kuhha that, in accordance with the ante-Islamitic custom, she had been excluded from any portion of her deceased husband's property. The unsatisfactory nature of the Muhammadan traditions may be inferred from the fact, that no less than six different names are assigned to him. It is, however, probable that these and similar laws relative to inheritances were given at a time when many leads of families had fallen, as at Ohod, in battle. This remark applies to verses 33-45.