Skip to main content
wa-in
وَإِنْ
And if
khif'tum
خِفْتُمْ
you fear
allā
أَلَّا
that not
tuq'siṭū
تُقْسِطُوا۟
you will be able to do justice
فِى
with
l-yatāmā
ٱلْيَتَٰمَىٰ
the orphans,
fa-inkiḥū
فَٱنكِحُوا۟
then marry
مَا
what
ṭāba
طَابَ
seems suitable
lakum
لَكُم
to you
mina
مِّنَ
from
l-nisāi
ٱلنِّسَآءِ
the women
mathnā
مَثْنَىٰ
two,
wathulātha
وَثُلَٰثَ
or three,
warubāʿa
وَرُبَٰعَۖ
or four.
fa-in
فَإِنْ
But if
khif'tum
خِفْتُمْ
you fear
allā
أَلَّا
that not
taʿdilū
تَعْدِلُوا۟
you can do justice
fawāḥidatan
فَوَٰحِدَةً
then (marry) one
aw
أَوْ
or
مَا
what
malakat
مَلَكَتْ
possesses
aymānukum
أَيْمَٰنُكُمْۚ
your right hand.
dhālika
ذَٰلِكَ
That
adnā
أَدْنَىٰٓ
(is) more appropriate
allā
أَلَّا
that not.
taʿūlū
تَعُولُوا۟
you oppress.

Wa in khiftum allaa tuqsitoo fil yataamaa fankihoo maa taaba lakum minan nisaaa'i masnaa wa sulaasa wa rubaa'a fa'in khiftum allaa ta'diloo fawaahidatan aw maa malakat aimaanukum; zaalika adnaaa allaa ta'ooloo

Sahih International:

And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].

1 A. J. Arberry

If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial.

2 Abdul Haleem

If you fear that you will not deal fairly with orphan girls, you may marry whichever [other] women seem good to you, two, three, or four. If you fear that you cannot be equitable [to them], then marry only one, or your slave(s): that is more likely to make you avoid bias.

3 Abdul Majid Daryabadi

And if ye apprehend that ye may not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry such as please you, of other Women, by twos and threes or fours, but if ye apprehend that ye shall not act justly, then marry one only, or that which your right hand own that Will be more fit, that ye may swerve not. their

4 Abdullah Yusuf Ali

If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.

5 Abul Ala Maududi

If you fear that you might not treat the orphans justly, then marry the women that seem good to you: two, or three, or four. If you fear that you will not be able to treat them justly, then marry (only) one, or marry from among those whom your right hands possess. This will make it more likely that you will avoid injustice.

6 Ahmed Ali

If you fear you cannot be equitable to orphan girls (in your charge, or misuse their persons), then marry women who are lawful for you, two, three, or four; but if you fear you cannot treat so many with equity, marry only one, or a maid or captive. This is better than being iniquitous.

7 Ahmed Raza Khan

And if you fear that you will not be just towards orphan girls, marry the women whom you like – two at a time, or three or four; then if you fear that you cannot keep two women equally then marry only one or the bondwomen you own; this is closer to your not doing injustice.

8 Ali Quli Qarai

If you fear that you may not deal justly with the orphans, then marry [other] women that you like, two, three, or four. But if you fear that you may not treat them fairly, then [marry only] one, or [marry from among] your slave-women. That makes it likelier that you will not be unfair.

9 Ali Ünal

If you fear that you will not be able to observe their rights with exact fairness when you marry the orphan girls (in your custody), you can marry, from among other women (who are permitted to you in marriage and) who seem good to you, two, or three, or four. However, if you fear that (in your marital obligations) you will not be able to observe justice among them, then content yourselves with only one, or the captives that your right hands possess. Doing so it is more likely that you will not act rebelliously.

10 Amatul Rahman Omar

And if (you wish to marry them and) you fear that you will not be able to do justice to the orphan girls then (marry them not, rather) marry of women (other than these) as may be agreeable to you, (you may marry) two or three or four (provided you do justice to them), but if you fear that you will not be able to deal (with all of them) equitably then (confine yourselves only to) one, or (you may marry) that whom your right hands possess (- your female captives of war). That is the best way to avoid doing injustice.

11 English Literal

And if you feared that you not be just/equitable in the orphans , so marry what (was) allowed/permitted for you from the women two twos/twos, and threes, and fours, so if you feared that you not be just/equitable, so (marry) one or what your rights owned/possessed, that (is) nearer that you not side away from justice .

12 Faridul Haque

And if you fear that you will not be just towards orphan girls, marry the women whom you like - two at a time, or three or four; then if you fear that you cannot keep two women equally then marry only one or the bondwomen you own; this is closer to your not doing injustice.

13 Hamid S. Aziz

But give not unto the weak-minded the property which Allah has entrusted to you to maintain; but feed and clothe them from it, and speak words of kindness and justice to them.

14 Hilali & Khan

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan-girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.

15 Maulana Mohammad Ali

And give to the orphans their property, and substitute not worthless (things) for (their) good (ones), and devour not their property (adding) to your own property. This is surely a great sin.

16 Mohammad Habib Shakir

And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.

17 Mohammed Marmaduke William Pickthall

And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.

18 Muhammad Sarwar

With respect to marrying widows, if you are afraid of not being able to maintain justice with her children, marry another woman of your choice or two or three or four (who have no children). If you cannot maintain equality with more than one wife, marry only one or your slave-girl. This keeps you from acting against justice.

19 Qaribullah & Darwish

If you fear that you cannot act justly towards the orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you; two, three, four of them. But if you fear that you cannot do justice, then one only, or, those you possess. It is likelier then that you will not be partial.

20 Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the servants) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from Ta`ulu.

21 Wahiduddin Khan

If you fear that you cannot deal fairly with orphan girls, you may marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you might not be able to treat them with equal fairness, then only one -- or [from among] those whom you rightfully possess. That is more likely to keep you from committing an injustice.

22 Talal Itani

If you fear you cannot act fairly towards the orphans—then marry the women you like—two, or three, or four. But if you fear you will not be fair, then one, or what you already have. That makes it more likely that you avoid bias.

23 Tafsir jalalayn

If you fear that you will not act justly, [that] you will [not] be equitable, towards the orphans, and are thus distressed in this matter, then also fear lest you be unjust towards women when you marry them; marry such (m means man) women as seem good to you, two or three or four, that is, [each man may marry] two, or three, or four, but do not exceed this; but if you fear you will not be equitable, towards them in terms of [their] expenses and [individual] share; then, marry, only one, or, restrict yourself to, what your right hands own, of slavegirls, since these do not have the same rights as wives; thus, by that marrying of only four, or only one, or resorting to slavegirls, it is likelier, it is nearer [in outcome], that you will not be unjust, [that] you will [not] be inequitable.

24 Tafseer Ibn Kathir

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِي الْيَتَامَى فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاء

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry (other) women of your choice,

Allah commands, when one of you is the caretaker of a female orphan and he fears that he might not give her a dowry that is suitable for women of her status, he should marry other women, who are plenty as Allah has not restricted him.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Aishah said,

"A man was taking care of a female orphan and he married her, although he did not desire to marry her. That girl's money was mixed with his, and he was keeping her portion from her. Afterwards, this Ayah was revealed about his case;

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ


If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly..."

Al-Bukhari recorded that Urwah bin Az-Zubayr said that;

he asked Aishah about the meaning of the statement of Allah,
وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِي الْيَتَامَى
(If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls).

She said, "O my nephew! This is about the orphan girl who lives with her guardian and shares his property. Her wealth and beauty may tempt him to marry her without giving her an adequate dowry which might have been given by another suitor. So, such guardians were forbidden to marry such orphan girls unless they treated them justly and gave them the most suitable dowry; otherwise they were ordered to marry woman besides them."

Aishah further said,

"After that verse, the people again asked the Messenger of Allah (about marriage with orphan girls), so Allah revealed the Ayah,
وَيَسْتَفْتُونَكَ فِي النِّسَاء
(They ask your instruction concerning the women..)." (4;127)

She said,

"Allah's statement in this Ayah,
وَتَرْغَبُونَ أَن تَنكِحُوهُنَّ
(yet whom you desire to marry) (4;127) refers to the guardian who does not desire to marry an orphan girl under his supervision because she is neither wealthy nor beautiful. The guardians were forbidden to marry their orphan girls possessing property and beauty without being just to them, as they generally refrain from marrying them (when they are neither beautiful nor wealthy)."
The Permission to Marry Four Women

Allah's statement,

مَثْنَى

وَثُلَثَ وَرُبَاعَ

two or three, or four,

means, marry as many women as you like, other than the orphan girls, two, three or four.

We should mention that Allah's statement in another Ayah,
جَاعِلِ الْمَلَايِكَةِ رُسُلًا أُولِي أَجْنِحَةٍ مَّثْنَى وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ
(Who made the angels messengers with wings, - two or three or four), (35;1), does not mean that other angels do not have more than four wings, as there are proofs that some angels do have more wings. Yet, men are prohibited from marrying more than four wives, as the Ayah decrees, since the Ayah specifies what men are allowed of wives, as Ibn Abbas and the majority of scholars stated. If it were allowed for them to have more than four wives, the Ayah would have mentioned it.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Salim said that his father said that;

Ghilan bin Salamah Ath-Thaqafi had ten wives when he became Muslim, and the Prophet said to him, "Choose any four of them (and divorce the rest)."

During the reign of Umar, Ghilan divorced his remaining wives and divided his money between his children.

When Umar heard news of this, he said to Ghilan, "I think that the devil has conveyed to your heart the news of your imminent death, from what the devil hears during his eavesdropping. It may as well be that you will not remain alive but for a little longer. By Allah! You will take back your wives and your money, or I will take possession of this all and will order that your grave be stoned as is the case with the grave of Abu Righal (from Thamud, who was saved from their fate because he was in the Sacred Area. But, when he left it, he was tormented like they were)."

Ash-Shafi`i, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ad-Daraqutni and Al-Bayhaqi collected this Hadith up to the Prophet's statement, "Choose any four of them."

Only Ahmad collected the full version of this Hadith.

Therefore, had it been allowed for men to marry more than four women at the same time, the Prophet would have allowed Ghilan to keep more than four of his wives since they all embraced Islam with him. When the Prophet commanded him to keep just four of them and divorce the rest, this indicated that men are not allowed to keep more than four wives at a time under any circumstances. If this is the case concerning those who already had more than four wives upon embracing Islam, then this ruling applies even more so to marrying more than four.
Marrying Only One Wife When One Fears He Might not Do Justice to His Wives

Allah's statement,

فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ

But if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or what your right hands possess.

The Ayah commands, if you fear that you will not be able to do justice between your wives by marrying more than one, then marry only one wife, or satisfy yourself with only female captives, for it is not obligatory to treat them equally, rather it is recommended. So if one does so, that is good, and if not, there is no harm on him.

In another Ayah, Allah said,

وَلَن تَسْتَطِيعُواْ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ بَيْنَ النِّسَأءِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ

You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire. (4;129)

Allah said,

ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ



That is nearer to prevent you from Ta`ulu,

meaning, from doing injustice.

Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Marduwyah and Abu Hatim Ibn Hibban, in his Sahih, recorded that Aishah said that,

the Prophet said that the Ayah,
ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ
(That is nearer to prevent you from Ta`ulu, means, from doing injustice.

However, Ibn Abi Hatim said that his father said that this Hadith to the Prophet is a mistake, for it should be attributed to Aishah not the Prophet.

Ibn Abi Hatim reported from Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Abu Malik, Abu Razin, An-Nakhai, Ash-Sha`bi, Ad-Dahhak, Ata Al-Khurasani, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan that;
Ta`ulu means to deviate (from justice).
Giving the Dowry is Obligatory

Allah says;