You are here: Home » Chapter 33 » Verse 51 » Translation
Sura 33
Aya 51
۞ تُرجي مَن تَشاءُ مِنهُنَّ وَتُؤوي إِلَيكَ مَن تَشاءُ ۖ وَمَنِ ابتَغَيتَ مِمَّن عَزَلتَ فَلا جُناحَ عَلَيكَ ۚ ذٰلِكَ أَدنىٰ أَن تَقَرَّ أَعيُنُهُنَّ وَلا يَحزَنَّ وَيَرضَينَ بِما آتَيتَهُنَّ كُلُّهُنَّ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعلَمُ ما في قُلوبِكُم ۚ وَكانَ اللَّهُ عَليمًا حَليمًا

Yusuf Ali

Thou mayest defer (the turn1 of) any of them that thou pleasest, and thou mayest receive any thou pleasest: and there is no blame on thee if thou invite one whose (turn)2 thou hadst set aside. This were nigher to the cooling of the eyes,3 the prevention of their grief, and their satisfaction—that of all of them—with that which thou hast to give them:4 and God knows (all) that is in your hearts:5 and God is All-Knowing, Most Forbearing.
  • In 4:3 it is laid down that more than one wife is not permissible “If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with them”. In a Muslim household there is no room for a “favourite wife”. In the special circumstances of the Prophet there were more than one, and he usually observed the rule of equality with them, in other things as well as in the rotation of conjugal rights. But considering that his marriages, after he was invested with the Prophetic office, were mainly dictated by other than conjugal or personal considerations (see n. to verse 33:28), the rotation could not always be observed, though he observed it as much as possible. This verse absolved him from absolute adherence to a fixed rotation. There are other interpretations, but I agree with most of the Commentators in the view I have explained.
  • Where the rotation was, for some reason, interfered with, it was permissible, by another interference with the usual rotation, to bring satisfaction to one who had been previously set aside. This was not only permitted, but commended, as tending to remove dissatisfaction and cheer and comfort the eyes and hearts of those who were disappointed in their turn.
  • Cooling the eyes: an Arabic idiom for cheering and comforting eyes which yearn to see those they love. A verse of Zeb-un-nisāa, daughter of the Muǥhal Emperor Awrangzeb, may be rendered thus:
    “My heart is glad whenever lover-wise
    I dwell upon thy beauties and thy grace!
    But how can I content my hungry eyes,
    That ask continually to see thy face?”
  • There was not much in the way of worldly goods or satisfaction that the Prophet could give them: see 33:28 above. But he was kind, just, and true—the best of men to his family, and they all clung to him.
  • Our human hearts, however good on the whole, may yet, in their motives, have possibly some baser admixture. The feminine hearts are not more immune in this respect than the masculine. But everything is known and understood by God, Who will in His Mercy make allowances for our human weaknesses. His title of “Most Forgiving” (Ḥalīm) also gives His devoted worshippers the cue: why should we not also forbear with the faults and weaknesses of our neighbours and fellow-creatures?