Suroh An Nisa deals a lot about women , war widows , family , and orphans .In fact the much celebrated Ayat from this Surah ,Ayat 2 was really in the context of an advisory to individuals who took it among themselves the responsibility of bringing up orphans [Badr , Uhud etc etc during the initial stabilisation of the Islamic foundation contributing to this state of affair ,
"Give unto orphans their wealth. Exchange not the good for the bad nor absorb their wealth into your own wealth. Lo ! that would be a great sin .[ 2] 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 you fear you cannot do justice [ to so many then one [ only ] or [ the captives ] that your right hands possess . Thus it is likely that ye will not do justice [ 3 ] "
The key words here are " fair and justice " .Modern women put it down as ' equality' .Prof Hamka in his erudite treatment of this ayat put it down to 'equitable' treatment rather than 'equal' .In term of material share a the first family of 10 people would need bigger housing and bigger allowance than the new addition , the "syt" . Kalau yang nomor satu ada NAZA MPV , the new addition syt probably can make do with a Perodua Kancil. This to Prof Hamka is 'equitable .Kalau the 1st family of 10 live in a bungalow ,the new syt probably will equitably be housed in a terrace house .From the perspective of love and passion Prof Hamka did not think men as human beings can be equal ,not even equitable .Even Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] admittedly loved Khatijah most , and amongst the 9 living wives he had , Siti Aishah was his favourite . This is human to be unequal in love and passion even for prophets and lest we get into prolonged academic and emotional arguments over this issue let us examine Ayat 129 of the same surah ,
"Ye will not be able to deal equally between [ your ] wives however much ye wish [ to do so ]. But turn not altogether away [from one ] , leaving her in suspense . If ye do good and keep from evil ,Lo ! Allah is ever forgiving . ".
That is our Lord's mercy .Try to give equal treatment ,equitable share etc etc but at the end of the day Allah already know however much you try , '' you will not be able to deal with your wives equally '' .This is a double edge meaning , the feminists as in SIS will insist ayat 129 dealt a death blow to polygamy .
A more wise interpretation would see it as our Lord's mercy towards men in general . Incidentally the prerequisite to being active in SIS is that one remain single ![ what a waste !] Bukan orang lelaki sebarang pilih kahwin dengan a widow of war with that many young mouths to feed .Allah hualam !
Dr Nik Howk