Ramadan Tafseer Series: In-Law Interference

An Nisaa [4:35]

Sahih International
And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted [with all things].
  • when there is turmoil in a marriage
  • Allah talking about the spouses – when you fear a split (شِقَاقَ)between the two of them, then get an intermediary one from his family and one from her family
  • this ayah lays out the structure and gives us the procedure by which the extended families and of husband and wife and their role, impact and influence they have on the marriage
  • Allah is saying the family should get involved and intrude in a matter when there is a dispute
  • literally means for 2 things to be very distant, to put distance between 2 things
  • in Arabic when you take a piece of wood and break it into 2 pieces or referred to as a corner (imagery when husband and wife go to individual corner and they are very emotionally distant from each other)
  • at this point the family should play a role and intervene
  • but how?
  • one representative from male side and one from the wife’s side – maintaining that balance
  • in a lot of cultures, women basically overrun and oppressed and tossed over to the side, but here Allah maintains a balance
  • Allah uses word hakam, حَكَمًا
  • the word hikmah comes from this: they need to be wise, knowledgeable
  • hukm also comes from this word: they need to be authoritative, they need to be fair and balanced individuals
  • marriage should not be easily abandoned, it’s the key component of any society
  • all efforts need to be made to salvage a marriage and show both parties the sensible route and the error of their own ways
  • when family gets involved they need to play a balanced, calm and respectable role
  • emotions should not get in the way, though typically that is what happens a lot of times
  • what’s the situation of marriage among the younger couples?
  • Sheikh’s personal observation: even among younger couples, when family not overly  intrusive or playing destructive role, those couples are doing okay, they’re emotionally connected to each other
  • but in couples where their families are extremely intrusive, the marriage is suffering
What’s the role of family in marriages in our community?
  • unfortunately, families are very demanding, intrusive, not a great sense of boundary and limitation and not respectingtje boundary of the couple, they’re inciting the couples against the other family and his/her spouse
  • families should be personally and emotionally invested to maintain strong marriages, not tear them down
  • even when couples fighting with one another without incitement from the familes, the family should step in and try to work it out and not make it worse
  • they should be very calm and relaxed
  • by word hakam, حَكَمًا, Allah is showing that the representatives are not coming in with intention of ‘I’m coming in to side with this person against the other’ but rather, they should be very just and bring them back to Quran and sunnah
إِن يُرِيدَا إِصْلَاحًا
2 interpretations: mufassireen say:
  1. when both husband and wife intend to fix the situation, Allah will make both of them come together
  2. when both representatives come into situation wanting to sincerely fix the situation then Allah will make both of them come together
Allah reminds us at the end of the ayah that at the end of the day Allah says He is the only one who can create love and compassion and caring between the hearts of two individuals

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