The Qinṭār Verse (Arabic: آیة القنطار) is the verse twenty of Qur'an 4 (sura al-Nisa'). The verse strongly prohibits and reproaches accusing women of adultery in order to justify their divorce and refusal to pay, or retake, their mahr. It was a mischievous practice in the Age of Ignorance, which had found its way into the Islamic period too.
During the Age of Ignorance, when a man decided to divorce his wife, he mistreated her and accused her of adultery in order to shun the payment of her mahr, or retake it if he had already paid it. The verse is said to imply different messages, such as the support of women's rights, the permissibility of a large amount of mahr, and women's right for ownership.
Text and Translation
|— Qur'an 4: 20|
Introduction and the Occasion of the Revelation
The verse twenty of Qur'an 4 is known as Qintar Verse. According to Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi, a contemporary exegete of the Qur'an, the verse defends women's rights, prohibiting and reproaching a wrong practice in the Age of Ignorance.
Before the emergence of Islam, when a man decided to divorce his wife, he maltreated her and accused her of adultery so that she would give up on, or return her mahr. He then divorced her and with the same mahr married another woman. The verse was revealed to reproach and prohibit this practice.
The verse preceding the Qintar Verse encourages men to treat their wives well and take care of them. According to Makarim Shirazi, the Qintar Verse was revealed to support women's rights. According to the verse, if a man wants to divorce his wife and marry another woman, then he must not evade paying his wife's mahr or retake it in case he had already paid it, even if the amount of the mahr is very high.
The Qintar Verse goes on to refer to a practice among Arabs in the Age of Ignorance according to which men accused their wives of adultery. Such a practice is characterized in the verse as an injustice and a manifest sin. The following verse reminds men that they used to have intimate relationships and physical contact with their wives and they had made a strong covenant with them at the time of marriage, so it is not fair to maltreat them at the time of divorce.
Some exegetes of the Qur'an believe that retaking the mahr from one's wife is forbidden in any circumstances, regardless of whether or not the man intends to marry another woman after divorce. Although the letter of the Qintar Verse is only concerned with the forbiddance of retaking the mahr when the man intends to marry another woman, al-Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Tabrisi, and Muhammad Jawad Mughniya forbid the retaking of the mahr in any circumstances. A contemporary Qur'anic scholar, Rida'i Isfahani, believes that the reference in the verse to remarriage is because of the practice in the Age of Ignorance and it has no relevance to the ruling. Thus, it does not imply that the retaking of the mahr is only forbidden if the man intends to marry someone else after divorce.
Meanings of Words in the Verse
The word, "qintar", means great wealth or it indicates hugeness. There is a disagreement as to the amount of the money implied by "qintar". In his Ahkam al-Qur'an, Ibn al-Arabi cites ten views about "qintar". Al-Shaykh al-Tusi and al-Tabrisi take "qintar" to be a cow skin full of gold or to amount to a person's blood money.
The word, "buhtan", in the verse literally means any speech or action that astonishes the hearer or observer. Allama Tabataba'i takes "buhtan" in the verse to mean an unfair and forcible retaking of the mahr from the woman. In his al-Tafsir al-kabir, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi made remarks about the notions of "buhtan" and sin in the verse.
Implications of the Verse
Different messages have been said to be implied by the Qintar Verse. Below are some of these:
- Islam supports women's rights, and a man is prohibited from marrying another woman if he has not fulfilled the rights of his divorced wife.
- The permissibility of a huge amount of mahr without any limits.
- Women's right for ownership and the impermissibility of retaking the mahr from women.
- The permissibility of divorce and marrying another woman.
- Divorce is in the hands of men.
- Great wealth has no limits insofar as it is in terms of divine rulings.
- Seizing people's possessions by way of accusations is one of the worst instances of injustice.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from آیه قنطار in Farsi WikiShia.